Marefat High School
History of the School
Marefat High School began in 1998 as an ideal, the tenets of democracy taught in a mud hut in a refugee camp in Pakistan. It had thirty students and a young Afghan, Aziz Royesh, whose vision was to build a centre of academic excellence rooted in his childhood community in Kabul. Over 20 years on, at the time of the Taliban’s 2021 takeover, Marefat High School had approximately 4,000 students, nearly half of whom were girls.
Under Royesh’s vision and leadership, Marefat became an institution renowned for empowering young Hazara women, many of whom went on to study and work at the finest institutions in America, the UK, and around the world, before returning to Afghanistan to take up positions in medicine, economics, law and engineering.
I want to be the first female president of Afghanistan
The Risks Faced by Hazaras
In Afghanistan, the Marefat school community faced extraordinary danger, because they are highly educated and come from the ethnic Hazara minority, historically persecuted by the Taliban. In particular, the girls feared being forced into “marriage” with Taliban fighters, having seen similar atrocities happen to Hazara girls in other provinces. As the U.S. withdrew its forces, massacres involving the Hazara people intensified as the Taliban moved to take over areas previously controlled by the U.S. and Afghanistan.