When I left my remote village to attend college in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, I dreamed of becoming an English teacher in Tajik villages. But when I started teaching, I had problems with local attitudes: men told me it’s better if their wives are uneducated so they won’t be able to talk back or challenge them, even in the case of physical violence.
Realising the severity of the problem, I dedicated my work to women’s education. Slowly, I’ve changed local attitudes: first ensuring that girls can complete high school and, eventually, in 2014 integrating classrooms. English is key to female empowerment – knowledge of the language is necessary to attend university here.
I ran a language centre from 2006-16 and taught locally. Since 2010, I have worked with the US embassy to teach the English Access Microscholarship Programme, aimed at children from low-income families.
At times, it’s been an uphill battle in a traditional society where it is challenging for girls to reach secondary school. Girls in rural areas are often pulled out of school and forced into marriages. I’ve worked with girls from rural and underprivileged backgrounds by building trust with parents when I launched an all-girls group. My first students have become “trailblazers”, and have confidence, sharing their knowledge with other girls.
Hamadony Muzafarov is an EFL teacher and ambassador at TeachSDGs