December 9, 2010
In Afghanistan, a lot of children are subject to exclusion from and within the education system. Female children, children affected by conflict and war, children with disabilities, nomadic (Kuchi) children, children from poor economic backgrounds, working children and children affected by drugs are just some of the vulnerable groups.
In 2009, more that six million children were enrolled in school, in contrast to 2001, when primary school enrolment only totalled 0.9 million. 36% of the number enrolled were girls. This percentage is much better than the virtually 0% in 2001, but enrolment rates of girls are still lower than those of boys. This occurs in both urban secondary schools and primary and secondary schools of rural areas.
The Ministry of Education estimates that even today half of the school age children in Afghanistan are out of school.
According to the Education Law (adopted in August 2008/1387), the role of the education system (from pre-primary to tertiary) is vital for the future of Afghanistan. The Education Law (Articles 2, 3) promotes and protects the right to education for all Afghans.
The National Education Strategic Plan for Afghanistan 2010-2014 (1389-1393) focuses on three priorities:
1) To provide an adequate learning environment for all children, especially girls, so as to improve access and retention. Nearly half of the existing schools do not have buildings or their buildings are damaged and unsafe to use.
2) To update teachers’ skills and qualifications and thus improve the quality of their teaching and consequently classroom learning.
3) To strengthen institutional ability to develop and implement adequate policies, as well as to effectively manage the human, financial and physical resources required to achieve positive results.
Exclusion of children from and within education must stop. It must be addressed by the government, but also by schools and communities. The concept of inclusive schools where children are able to learn and to further develop academically, socially, emotionally as well as physically is widely accepted.
But it is not easy. It is a long-standing situation that cannot be addressed or altered overnight as it requires commitment and perseverance over a long period of time. The need for a new strategy towards inclusive and child-friendly education able to give people in Afghanistan access to education is essential.Author : Letters to the EurActiv editor