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Spirited Afghan refugee students in India need helping hand from government

Students of Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan High School (Image Courtesy: India Narrative)

The horrific bomb blast at the Kaaj Learning Centre in Kabul which left 53 dead – mostly girls– has only made the 400 odd Afghan refugee students studying at the Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan High School in the heart of New Delhi even more resolute in their determination in seeking peace. While inaugurating the “Peace Club” at their school on Friday they recited the same oath that was read out by the students at Kaaj minutes before they were killed in the blast.

The club and its activities are aimed at spreading the message of universal peace, harmony and non- violence, in an era otherwise marked by uncertainty in Afghanistan, school authorities said.

“At this critical phase of their lives, it is important for all of us to keep reiterating that it is only peace that is the way forward,” one of the staff members said.

A host of events promoting peace and mutual respect have kicked in since October 2 – the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

While Dari and Pashto are the two languages used to teach the students, they speak Hindi fluently as well. The school is now looking to apply for an affiliation with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to enable the students passing out from here to be able to pursue higher education in India without any hassle.

Though the school, which had no official premise till August, has finally managed to get a small building in Jangpura to hold offline classes, authorities are hopeful that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) would help in getting a modern building with more space.

“We are in talks with the MEA on this issue..it is important to ensure that the refugee children here get quality education who have been fighting all odds. It is critical for us to given them the opportunity to merge into the mainstream society despite the current uncertainty in Afghanistan,” Navita Srikant, a commentator on international affairs who has also been working with the Afghan refugees to promote education told India Narrative.

Spirited Afghan refugee student

Also read: Green shoots emerge in India-Afghan trade one year after Taliban stormed into Kabul

Classes at the school are currently being held in two shifts as the space is inadequate to accommodate all the students at the same time. The number of students is increasing by the day, the staff members said.

The number of Afghan refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR India till December 31, 2021, stood at 15,916, as per the annual report of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). However, the unofficial number is significantly higher.

A report published by Hindustan Times noted that Ahmed Zia Ghani, head of the Afghan solidarity committee in India pegged the number at over 22, 000 Afghans.