Angela Ghayur is teaching a thousand students who would not otherwise get an education now – women and girls in Taliban-held Afghanistan.

Ghayur was only 13 when she began teaching, a refugee from Afghanistan in Iran. Her family had managed to surmount the paperwork obstacles to allow her to attend school. It took them five years to do so, and many of her Afghan neighbors never managed. So every day after school, she brought home her classwork and taught 14 other Afghan children in her father’s garden.

After the Taliban was broken in the early 2000s, Ghayur returned to Afghanistan and qualified to teach college. She later moved to the Netherlands and then to the UK, always returning to her calling, teaching.

When the Taliban took back Afghanistan earlier this year, women and girls were immediately instructed not to go to school. The regime had made promises to the international community that women would still be educated, but it swiftly became apparent that was a lie.

From the UK, Angela Ghayur watched the unfolding tragedy with horror. She felt compelled to act.

Ghayur founded the Online Herat School to reach the women and girls under the Taliban’s restrictions. She called out on Instagram for volunteer teachers and organizers, and now her school has nearly 400 educators, all volunteers, teaching 170 classes in a broad range of studies.

“I feel this school is the result of all of my pain, my agonies, and experiences,” said Angela. “Our motto is, the pen instead of the gun.”

The school has so far reached nearly a thousand students. Many of them are hoping it will keep them in the habit of education, as they wait for relief from the restrictions of the Taliban.

Even before the resurgence of the Taliban, Afghanistan already struggled with girls’ access to education. According to the Afghan Ministry of Education in 2019, over a third of women over 15 years old are illiterate.

Photo by solmaz daryani /

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