Resources to Orient Afghans to K-12 Education in the U.S.
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
As most are aware, American military troops withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021 and almost immediately, the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban took over. Over 100,000 Afghans were evacuated within days. Many were screened and vetted by the U.S. government overseas (in countries such as Germany, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and more) and then were transferred to military bases in the U.S. for further processing and long-term resettlement.
Through the U.S. government’s Operation Allies Welcome, 60,000+ Afghans are being resettled in communities throughout the U.S., through the existing network of 200 refugee resettlement agencies (see the R & P Affiliate Directory here).
As Afghans trickle into our K-12 classrooms, one of the best ways you can welcome students and families is by providing them with some kind of orientation about school in the U.S. in their native language (the majority of Afghans speak Dari or Pashto). This is especially important because the educational system in Afghanistan is quite different than it is in the U.S.
If you decide to create your own orientation in Dari and/or Pashto, feel free to refer to this video and checklist we created for English Learner Portal. However, you may not need to create your own orientation materials because there are many existing education orientation resources in Dari and Pashto already! Please see the lists below of national resources as well as some at the state or school district level. Many of these orientation resources are generic enough that they could be used anywhere in the U.S.
National Resources to Orient Afghans to K-12 Education in the U.S.
The Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange (CORE) has a short resource on Education in the U.S. that is in written, audio, and video format. It is geared towards parents, but could also be used with older students. It’s in Dari and a number of other refugee languages. (Click "choose your language" in the upper right hand corner.)
The Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange (CORE) has a video on Supporting Your Child in School that is available in a number of languages, including Dari. It is an excellent resource for explaining the concept of family engagement in American schools.
USAHello has a section on their website on Education for Children that’s geared towards parents. It includes a number of languages, including Dari and Pashto. (Click on the language needed in the upper left corner.) The education section includes information about public school in the U.S., education law and rights, levels in the U.S. education system, how to help your child in school, how to register your child in school, information about school staff, school activities, and more!
State and District Level Resources to Orient Afghans to K-12 Education in the U.S.
Granite Schools in Utah have their Welcome to School video available in a number of languages, including Dari. This video is very generic except when they give the school district number at the very end. It covers school registration, school levels, school schedule, transportation, dress code, school staff, school procedures, grade placement, and parent roles.
Catholic Charities of Milwaukee in partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools have an entire Parent Resource Video Library that cover a variety of topics such as parent teacher conferences, communicating with school, and many health related topics. They are available in Dari, Pashto, and a number of other languages.
Oakland Unified School District’s orientation video is available in a number of languages including Dari (and you can watch it in English here). It’s primarily for parents, but could be useful to older students as well. It covers one’s right to a free education, levels of education, newcomer programming, the school calendar, the enrollment process, and transportation.
Kansas created a General School Orientation for refugee parents, which is available in Pashto and a few other languages (not Dari). The first section on the school system includes some information that’s specific to Wichita, Kansas but the sections on "how to support your child in school" and "tips for students" are generic.
The Refugee School Impact programs in Texas have created a number of video (PPT + audio) orientation videos for refugee parents on a variety of topics. For example, Introduction to American Public Schools, Tips to Support Learning at Home, Student Progress & Behavior, COVID-19 Hygiene, Bullying, and Community Involvement. They are available in a number of languages including Dari.
Elk Grove Unified School District’s (California) Family and Community Engagement Department has a number of welcome/orientation videos in Dari, Pashto, and other languages. They cover topics such as enrollment, parent communication, and attendance.
Spring Branch ISD (Texas) has a series of Welcome Center Videos in Pashto and Dari. They cover topics such as enrollment, attendance and absences, transportation, the school day, parent involvement, grades, ESL program, student testing, and graduation plans. (Note: the playlist for Dari is shorter than the one for Pashto.)
Do you know a resource that should be included here? Please let us know! Email Laura at email@example.com.
Check out our webinar on "Educational Experiences of Afghans: Learning from Afghan Refugee Students & Families" that featured a panel of Afghan students and parents who were resettled in recent years!