KABUL CITY – It’s midday and a sea of white headscarves and clean, tidy uniforms appear as about 700 girls from Grades 8–10 arrive at Bibi Zainab Kobra School. The school serves the Dashayee Jabar Khan neighborhood in District 13, on Kabul city’s west side. The students walk along the smoothly asphalted street and chat animatedly with each other, while school principal Zohra Wares, 52, waits at the school’s entrance to welcome the girls.
Students from Grades 1–12 attend classes in three sessions at Bibi Zainab Kobra School. A majority of the neighborhood’s workforce are day laborers, and many families are impoverished. With 34 years of experience as an educator, Zohra knows the students face many barriers to learning and education, including the problem of poor road conditions that can limit physical access to school.
Bibi Zainab Kobra School sits on Dashayee Jabar street. Before the street was paved, Zohra says the girls faced many problems. “In the spring, the giant puddles of water and mud made it difficult for the girls to reach the [school] gates. Some students would arrive with their shoes and legs covered in mud or soaked with water. We’ve had cases of the younger students so covered in grime from the street that they would miss school,” she explains.
Students and school staff also suffered from pollution caused by the poor street conditions. “In the summer, clouds of dust billowed into the classrooms every time a vehicle or motorcycle passed, disturbing class and causing health problems for the girls who coughed because of the dust,” says Zohra.
. “Taxis charge us less and are more willing now to come to our school because the streets are nice,” Zohra says. This has made it easier to bring in school supplies, she added.