When it comes to education in Afghanistan, the structure has been destroyed by years of consistent conflict and political instability. Unfortunately, young girls seem to suffer a great deal as a result, receiving a lower quality of education, or being out of school all together. These top ten facts about girls’ education in Afghanistan give a brief rundown of the various obstacles girls face in receiving proper schooling.
Top 10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Afghanistan
- UNICEF has recently reported that approximately 3.7 million children are out of school, and 60 percent of those children are female. That’s 1 in every 3 girls attending school everyday, which is the steepest drop in school attendance in 16 years. In fact, UNICEF stated that “the ongoing conflict and worsening security situation across the country, combined with deeply ingrained poverty and discrimination against girls, have pushed the rate of out-of-school children up for the first time since 2002 levels.”
- The level of literacy among boys is much higher at 66 percent, while the literacy rate of young girls is just 37 percent. The Afghanistan government has not provided as many schools for girls as it has boys at primary and secondary levels.
- A lack of female teachers, specifically in rural areas, may be a reason for low enrollment of girls. In half of all Afghan provinces less than 20 percent of all teachers are female, and in some families it is unacceptable for young, soon-to-be adolescent girls to be taught by a male teacher.
- Gender norms also frequently come into play. In some instances, families see boys’ education as being of greater importance than that of girls’, or as superfluous, only necessary in the years before puberty. About one third of girls are married before the age of 18 and are then urged to discontinue their education.
- In some schools there is a lack of sanitation and access to clean and safe private toilets (this is also a problem worldwide). Girls tend to need access to bathroom facilities more often than boys, especially with the onset of puberty and menstruation. Without a proper place to get rid of waste and wash, there is immense difficulty in managing hygiene. For health and sanitation reasons such as these, some girls choose to stay home, gathering unexcused absences and missing valuable class time.
- Children who come from low-income homes are required to work at school-age. According to the Human Rights Watch, at least 25 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 work for a living, and as a result, education oftentimes becomes a burden. Girls typically make money by weaving or tailoring, but some do other small jobs like selling items on the street.
- The Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic political movement that started war within the country, are present in over 40 percent of the districts. The conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban pushes families away from their homes and creates millions of displaced Afghan citizens. Girls are permitted to go to school for only a few years or are prohibited from receiving education entirely in areas under Taliban control.
- Teachers often find it difficult to provide quality education with a lack of supplies and resources, low salaries and being understaffed. The job pays about $100 per month and many teachers are hired with inadequate levels of training and education.
- CBEs stands for “Community-based education” programs and they are good educational opportunities for girls who may miss school. Research has showed promising results that CBEs have lead to an increase in enrollment and test scores for girls according to Human Rights Watch. These programs are solutions to many issues such as traveling long distances to reach school or lack of female teachers amongst others.
- Fear of natural disasters like floods and earthquakes can make parents apprehensive about sending their children to school.
Relief Efforts For the Future
These top ten facts about girls’ education in Afghanistan are just the tip of the iceberg; thankfully, there are many relief efforts to combat some of the aforementioned prevalent and widespread issues. Today, UNICEF continues to work with the Ministry of Education at the federal and local levels to work on the lack of female education causes such as poverty, gender bias and conflict.
The organization established CBEs and Accelerated Learning Centers in close proximity to communities, supports policies and programs that benefit the education of young girls on the national level and provides emergency education in times of natural disaster and conflict. With efforts such as these, the future of girls’ education in Afghanistan looks more than promising.
– Camille Wilson