In spite of the global attention to the issue, girls in Afghanistan continue to struggle as they pursue an education. In the new documentary What Tomorrow Brings, filmmaker Beth Murphy captures some of these challenges, showing what it really means to be a girl growing up in Afghanistan today.
With unprecedented access, Murphy traces the stories of students, teachers, village elders, parents, and school founder Razia Jan, a visionary and fearless educator. Filming started in 2009, shortly after the Zabuli Girls’ School opened and goes through December 2015, the school’s first graduation. About the experience, Beth says:
What I witnessed during the years of filming has been remarkable, and the transition in this community has been dramatic. It has transformed from a village that did not support girls’ education to one in which fathers and elders are now excited to send their daughters on to college.
The Zabuli School started with 109 students. Today there are more than 600 girls going to school in grades kindergarten through 12. In the years I have been filming there, grades kindergarten through 5 have doubled in size. Slowly, parents and elders are chipping away at attitudes that keep girls out of the classroom across Afghanistan, and I want to share a story that shows what’s possible.
Educating girls in Afghanistan means finding a precarious balance between hope and tradition, even at the best of times. These girls, their teachers and the school administrators face serious threats and formidable obstacles every day. I think they have earned the right to be heard. And I am hopeful that while the film brings attention to the precariousness of girls’ education in Afghanistan, it can also spotlight a community that is lighting the way for others.
What Tomorrow Brings has its national broadcast premiere on the PBS documentary series POV (Point of View) on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. Check local listings.