In the pursuit of light: voices of educational activists in Afghanistan
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This qualitative study presents the voices of Afghan educational activists working in the current context of Afghanistan. It examines their stories and reflects on their thoughts and perspectives about education in order to foreground their concerns regarding the current status and issues of Afghan education. The stories of the activists shed light on the relation of power and education since the rise of the pro-communist regime in the 1970s to the present time. As a social constructivist concerned about the multiple ways that people make meaning of the world my epistemological position contributed to my choice of narrative inquiry as my methodological approach and as a means of communication with my participants and collection of participants’ stories of activism. Narrative inquiry provided my participants an opportunity to share their stories and express their thoughts and perspectives with me. The findings of this thesis indicate that the roots of the problems with Afghan education are historic and that the socio-political and religious attitudes that restrict education are deeply and widely embedded in the religious and political ideologies that rule the country, peoples’ traditional beliefs, and the constant foreign interventions in Afghanistan affairs. Findings also illustrate that Afghan schools are not neutral institutions and invariably support the status quo. While the majority of the population including most of the teachers do not question the status quo, the voices of the educational activists presented in this thesis provide invaluable insights into why they challenge the status quo, why their voices matter, and how they signal hope. This study not only brings forth the voices of the Afghan educational activists but also contributes towards the understanding of effective ways of empowering Afghan schools to have an impact over the larger community to create a stable Afghanistan that would enjoy peace, social justice, rule of law, humanity, and democracy.