Suspension of higher education
Update December 2022: We are very concerned to hear about the suspension of higher education for women in Afghanistan. We are in contact with our sponsored students and are continuing to provide living allowances to them, while also exploring other options to support their studies.
One of the most important and long-lasting ways we support women in Afghanistan is by funding their education.
We provide scholarships for women studying to be doctors, midwives and dentists. And we also sponsor young women studying law, economics or business studies. The women have had to overcome many hardships to get to university and continue to face difficulties while studying.
137 women studying medicine, midwifery and nursing are being sponsored by the Linda Norgrove Foundation.
New scholarships for 2022
Despite the difficulties faced by women who want to study, in April 2022 we offered scholarships to 36 women for their medical studies in the spring semester – 25 study at Kateb University, with the other 11 at Khatam University, both in Kabul.
We received around 500 applications for scholarships, a remarkable sign of women’s determination to continue their education. Applicants are shortlisted according to their academic ability and their financial circumstances, and the final numbers selected are also determined by the number of university places available.
We will also be awarding scholarships for women looking to start their studies in the autumn.
Read Lorna Norgrove’s blog on the courage shown by Afghan women to continue studying.
Read about some of the students below.
Tayaba, 21, is from Kabul Province and has completed four years of medical studies – her recent average grade was a very impressive 97%. There are seven people in her family: her parents, three brothers and a sister.
Her father was working as a driver but lost his job after the Taliban took over. Her mother is a tailor and her monthly income is around £95. Tayaba’s elder brother was studying computer science in a private university but after their father lost his job they couldn’t afford to pay his fees and he had to leave.
Tayaba took leave from her studies for one semester to try and find a solution. Fortunately, she found out about the Linda Norgrove Foundation Scholarship, and her successful application has enabled her to continue her studies.
Mina is 23 and has completed two years of medical school. Her father was a school teacher but, after the Taliban takeover, he lost his job and couldn’t afford to pay the university fees last year. Without an LNF scholarship she would have had to leave university.
According to Mina, there is no female doctor in her home province, Paktika, where 800,000 people live, and women face many difficulties. Mina says that after graduation she will go back to her province and work there to help women.
Noor is 17 years old and from the extremely remote Nooristan Province. Her father died when she was 7 and now her mother is working the family land, helped by Noor’s two sisters and two brothers.
When her father died, her aunt brought her to Kabul but, after the Taliban take-over, her aunt left Afghanistan.
Her aunt paid Noor’s first semester’s fee but, now struggling herself in a new country, is unable to pay any more.
Shukria was three quarters of the way through her medical degree when the Taliban took over.
Her father had supported her studies but the government no longer pays his work pension. Two years ago, his house in their home province of Helmand was destroyed in fighting.
She works part-time in a hospital as a nursing assistant but her pay is not enough to cover her living costs and fees. The LNF scholarship will allow her to complete her studies.
Rohina had finished a year of medical studies.
Her mother, a widow, worked as a cleaner to pay for Rohina’s studies but when the Taliban took over she lost her job.
If Rohina hadn’t been awarded a scholarship she would not have been able to continue at university.
Disruption of studies
During the first half of 2021, studies were disrupted many times when the Covid pandemic closed the universities. Courses were run online but not all our sponsored students had or could afford laptops or internet connection.
Since the Taliban took over the country, private universities and colleges have stayed open although men and women have to be segregated. Government universities have reopened, but secondary schools have been closed to girls across Afghanistan.
The Taliban have closed women’s dormitories, forcing the women into shared private flats and houses. Many of our students were supporting themselves by teaching and tutoring part-time. That work has now disappeared and, to add to their hardship, food prices have doubled. We are now providing living allowances to support the students in this rapidly changed situation.