Afghan Education; from Slogan to Bitter Realities


The improvement of education over the past 17 years has been one of the prominent slogans of the Afghan government and the international community; however, over the course of a long time and consuming of billions of dollars, while education has made remarkable progress, there are still many problems and challenges that threaten this vital field and millions of Afghan children are deprived of attending school.

A new joint study of UNICEF and the Afghan Ministry of Education show that 44% of entire eligible children (3.7 million) are denied access to schools throughout Afghanistan. Insecurities, lack of school facilities, displacement and underage marriage are among the associated factors mentioned in the report. [1]

Education is one of the most fundamental and vital part of human life and plays a prime role in the development of the human societies. In the past one and half decade, the Afghan education has certainly had remarkable progress, however; still, there exist many problems and challenges in its way, the most important of which are: insecurity, low quality, corruption and other challenges. Another challenging factor is the simultaneous reign of both the Taliban and the Afghan government on schools and educational administrations in areas controlled by the Taliban.

The education sector in Afghanistan and the types of interaction of the National Unity Government (NUG) with the education and the related problems are among the issues discussed in this Analysis.


Education in Afghanistan

The first modern schools, Habiba, became established around 115 years ago by Amir Habibullah Khan in 1282 (solar year) in Kabul City where its teachers and administrative staff were all Indians. During the Sultanate of Amir Habibullah Khan, besides Habibia School, some other primary measures on development and improvement of education were taken as well.

During the era of Amanullah Khan, the country’s education became focused on more than ever. More schools became built in Kabul and other provinces, the Ministry of Education became established and also an association for compilation and translation of educational books and supervising schools and students became established in Kabul.

Although this trend was on rise from the very beginning till the bloody Communist Coup of 7th Sawr of 1357 (solar year), but after the US campaign on Afghanistan in the 1380s, due to profound political and social developments and war and conflict in the country, this sector suffered a lot of ups and downs and a heavy blow to its body.

After the collapse of the Taliban regime and formation of the new system, the education condition changed as well. Thousands of schools became activated and hundreds of thousands of students started to receive education. As there were only 3389 schools in Afghanistan in 1380; however, this number, as Ministry of Education says, increased to 174000 where almost 9 million students are receiving education there.     

However, there are also problems and challenges that Afghanistan’s education is affected by. The low quality of education, lack of security, the existence of corruption, lack of necessary educational materials and lack of professional teachers are among the problems that Afghanistan’s education encounters.


Interaction of National Unity Government with Education

President Ghani during the electoral campaigns, and when he arrived in the Presidential Office, he once again committed to the implementation of his slogans at a ceremony commemorating the Teacher’s Day (October 10, 2014).

President Ghani pledged to work toward improvement the knowledge level of the teachers of the country and in order to increase the quality of education, more will be invested on teachers, so that our graduates from the 6th, 9th and 12th grades will also be able to have a proud job and dignified life. He also promised to eliminate the distance between school and madrasa and pay more attention to religious teachings. According to the president’s commitments, in a period of six months, a land will be distributed to all teachers in their respective provinces, and also addressed the teachers and said; “to the extent you fight corruption and the government’s revenues get increased, then, the amount of your salary will become increased as well.” [2]

At the beginning of the operation of the National Unity Government, however, the commitments made by President Ghani brought hope and optimism regarding improvements in the educational situation, but over a period of more than a year since the reign of National Unity Government, President Ghani apologized the teachers for failing to fulfill his obligations, and once again at the ceremony of the beginning of the school year of 1395, he pledged that education will be at the top of his government agenda. [3]

President Ghani, at the ceremony of the beginning of the school year of 1397, promised that 6000 new school-buildings will be built up to next two year. He also stressed to connect the Capital and provincial schools through internet and reemphasized on fulfilling his promises regarding increase in teachers’ salaries till 18th of August, 2018. [4]

However, months have been passed from the recent commitments made by the President, but the education is in the same situation and there is no sign of the implementation of Mr. Ghani’s commitments. In this perspective, the recent joint report of UNICEF and the Afghan Ministry of Education is a good illustration of the country’s unsavory educational situation.


Education Bitter Realities

  • The Taliban’s management of education; while the Taliban has allowed other educational activities in areas under their control, without girls’ schools, but at the same time monitors the education in those areas.

The Taliban has a specific committee to oversee schools in the areas under their control, which monitors education movements, as part of their oversight, changes have been made to the Afghan government’s curriculum.

CSRS has some information in its possession that suggests the Taliban monitors and manages schools in areas under its control in some of the provinces (including Maidan Wardak, Logar, Ghazni, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Kunar, Helmand, etc.). In some cases, Taliban’s management and decisions were against those of the Afghan government, which means more schools are at the risk of getting closed. For example, the banking mechanism of salary delivery, however, has also caused serious problems for instance in some Taliban-controlled areas, the Taliban have prevented teachers from taking their salaries through banks and, therefore, since the past six months, these teachers have not received their salaries.

According to the information that CSRS has received, the Taliban regularly monitor the teaching process, teachers’ presence and curriculum in areas under its control. Taliban has also added some subjects to the present curriculum as well, such as: “Al-Khair al-Ka’thir Lil-Mujahid Wal-Asir, morning and evening recitations and prayers, easy prayers in Persian language, and the Education of Islam and Facilitation of Logic”.

  • Education being affected by electoral activities; alike in previous elections, most of the voters’ registration centers are located in schools. This issue, on the one hand, has made people concerned about the security of their schools and their children, because presently one of the military targets of the armed opposition is targeting these centers, but on the other hand, due to the lack of transparency in the registration process and the existence of corruption, a number of treachery teachers and school administrators are engaged in collecting student Tazkira (National ID Card) and selling them to parliamentary candidates.

Center for Strategic and Regional Studies (CSRS) has accessed information that shows a number of teachers and administrators in some schools of Kabul gather Tazkira from high school students and sell them to the candidates which, the process caused in disconcerting educational progress at schools.      

  • Security threats against education; war and insecurity are another challenge to Afghanistan’s education. The Taliban monitors the curriculum in their areas of control and teaches their own curriculum, but there are schools in some areas of Afghanistan that are either blocked as a result of war or by armed opposition groups and nobody is allowed to go to school. In the meantime, the ISIL group has recently announced in a newsletter that they are targeting schools in Nangarhar province and that people should avoid sending their children to schools. [5]
  • Low Quality and Weakness in Management; following one and a half decade of remarkable development in education when it comes to its quantity; however, low quality and level of the Afghan education is still considered as one of the most important challenges. Based on statistics of the Ministry of Education, only 27 percent of the entire 170000 teachers meet the least requirements of a professional teacher which is being graduated from 14th grade; and this condition, besides other factors, has directly impact on low educational quality and level in the country.

On the other hand, the Afghan education is faced low executive performance of Education sector in the Capital and provinces. The Education sector has faced weakness in management and monitoring of the Capital and most of the regions in the country due to lack of cadre and specialist potentials and appointment of unprofessional personalities due to existed corruption. 



[1] See online:

[2]See online:

[3]See online:

[4] See online:

[5] See online:

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