Shakira is your typical ten-year-old. After a long day at school, pouring over her reading and arithmetic, the thing she looks forward to the most is recess.
Now that a brand new play area—complete with swings, seesaws and a slide—has been built outside her school in Afghanistan, Shakira has been more enthusiastic than ever about going to class, sharing, “I am very happy and enjoy coming to school!”
To Shakira and her classmates, the playground’s construction seemed endless. In delighted anticipation they waited, frequently asking the project team about when the play area would be completed and how often they would be allowed to play.
Through support from PWS&D and local partners in Afghanistan, the play area is in full swing along with four others built at schools participating in the Girls Education Project. This element of the project aims to encourage the physical and cognitive development of children through recreation facilities and play.
Shakira has benefited greatly from the opportunity for physical education. She feels rejuvenated and ready to learn after playing. Shakira even wakes up extra early to ensure that after her four-kilometre walk to school, she has an hour to play before class begins.
“I play three times a day,” she explains. “Before school starts, during the break and before leaving for home. I feel quite energized and it also helps me learn my lesson very well.”
Providing resources for play and recreation not only improves the learning experience, it also encourages better attendance and helps motivate students to succeed. Muzafar, one of Shakira’s teachers, noticed a change in Shakira’s attitude towards school after the construction of the play area. “Shakira was absent often, but now she has become very enthusiastic,” he explains. “She comes to school regularly and also learns her lessons well. She is ambitious and wants to become a lawyer in the future.”
Shakira’s parents are also thankful that their daughter is getting an education and driven to build a brighter future. “I express my gratitude to the school for motivating my daughter to attend school regularly,” says Samiullah, Shakira’s father.
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An education is one of the most critical tools to help break the cycle of poverty, yet many children in developing countries, especially girls, are denied this basic right. When more girls are empowered to succeed and inspired to set goals through the opportunity to go to school, they will improve their lives and help their families and communities prosper. Support PWS&D Girls Education Project and help empower children like Shakira for today and for the future.