The importance of education is understood best by those who are denied the opportunities for the same. In a country struggling with endless wars, poverty, instability, corruption, and lack of development, education for all is the only way ahead on a path of progress. Afghanistan is the 15th least developed country in the world. When Taliban ruled Afghanistan, education for girls was banned and even the boys were allowed very basic education, mostly religious in nature. They also destroyed most of the existing schools, doing major damage to Kabul University that was once a flourishing Center for learning.
Since 2002 and the downfall of Taliban, Afghanistan has been steadily working towards rebuilding its education system. Let us understand a bit about the two types of education systems existing earlier. Most children got religious education that focused on the learning of Koran, writing and basic mathematics. The second education system encompassed elementary education for children between the ages of 7 to 15 years, but sadly this system was never really fully implemented. Since 2002 efforts are being made to follow the more conventional system of teaching which includes kindergarten, primary, and secondary education till 12th grade. There are currently 6 main Universities in Afghanistan where higher education can be pursued. UNESCO and World Bank have been actively working towards setting up more schools, teacher training, higher education, and enrollment of girls.
The World Bank has been providing funds to reconstruct the education system in Afghanistan. The funds and grants provided are specifically being used to:
- Rehabilitate current schools
- Build new schools
- Encourage more girls to join schools by training more lady teachers and having more girls only schools.
- Train teachers
- Provide quality educational material
- Bring together a network of donors to fund more initiatives related to education
- Establish more Universities in addition to the six currently available
- Promote tie-ups with more international Universities for better education and higher studies
- Many others
The Back to School campaign was launched in 2002 as a joint Afghan government/UN Initiative. The campaign largely aimed to work at bringing more enrollments of girl students into schools. The Campaign worked effectively by pumping in almost $1.9bn towards the reconstruction of the Afghan education system in the last 10 years. There has been an increase of girl enrollment from 5,000 in 2001 to 2.4 million in 2011, which is very impressive.
But, it is being pointed out that these initiatives are facing major obstacles from corruption and security threats. A lot of funds meant for education are being pilfered by corrupt officials. The above figures of girl enrollment are also being questioned because almost 22% of them are now being found to be permanent absentees albeit enrolled. Though more than 2,200 schools have been built in the last couple of years, only about 53% have an existing school building. Insecurity about safety concerns, massive poverty, infrastructure problems, and corruption are proving to be major roadblocks in the rebuilding of education system in Afghanistan.
There is an apprehension that donor aid also might come down once the NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan.
Despite the setbacks, the Afghan government with the help of its allies is doing its best in working towards providing education for all. It is an uphill task but one that is key to the development and prosperity of Afghanistan.
To read more about Film Annex's initiatives in Afghanistan, see these videos:
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