Afghan refugee graduating from University of Sussex dedicates his degree to girls' education

  • ITV News Meridian's Megan Samrai reports on the University of Sussex's Winter graduation ceremony

An Afghan refugee graduating from the University of Sussex has dedicated his degree to girls' education.

Naimat Zafary and his family left their home in Kabul to flee the Taliban.

He has an undergraduate and Master's Degree from Kabul University and arrived at Sussex in September 2021 on a prestigious scholarship.

Now, having completed an MA in Governance, Development and Public Policy, Naimat is continuing his studies as a PhD candidate in International Development.

He said: "It's quite a special day. I'm quite happy, it's a proud moment and a dream coming true."

However, Naimat said he feels for the girls of Afghanistan and their struggles, because "the doors of schools are closed for them."

He added: "The sad part is from the other side you see in your country, girls are not allowed to go to secondary schools.

"Women are not allowed to go to work. And they are not allowed to go to Universities. It's a devastating situation.

"Being in the UK, that's the blessed side. I am so blessed that my daughters will be able to go to Universities and they will be able to contribute to the community.

Naimat Zafary and his family left their home in Kabul to flee the Taliban.

"I would like to dedicate my degree to Afghan girls, for their bravery, for their commitment and their spirit, and their love for education.

"For the rest of my life, I'll be struggling, I'll be fighting and I'll be advocating and lobbying for the girls' education in Afghanistan."

The graduates at the University hail from over 134 countries, and among them are a husband and wife who were forced to flee Syria 10 years ago.

This week, Mayas Alcharani and Rama Almare collected their Master's Degrees on the same day.

Rama Almare said: "It was very stressful, like, moving from country to country with the schools, the children and trying to manage the deadlines and assignments.

"Each one of us would be responsible for the children for certain hours and the other would focus on their studies."

She added that during the school holidays, the professors were very kind and accepted the children with them in the lectures.

Her husband Mayas said: "I was really proud that I'm doing this achievement with my wife, also together.

"Since day one like when we got engaged, we built everything together and even now on the personal achievement we do it together."

Mayas Alcharani and Rama Almare collected their Masters degrees on the same day.

Many students like Mayas, Rama and Naimat have been able to pursue a degree and fulfil their potential thanks to scholarships funded by Sussex's alumni community and other external funders. 

Speaking on the day, the University of Sussex’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Sasha Roseneil said: "It's been amazing. I mean it's just an incredible honour but it's also really joyous to sort of witness students at the end of their studies.

"A lot of our students have travelled from amazing distances, and often, you know, faced real challenges in their lives to come study with us.

"And I think we are opening up new possibilities for all those students."

Stepping into the future, Chancellor, Sanjeev Bhaskar, told students: "As you go on to create change in the world,  remember that you are forever Sussex."