Education in Afghanistan

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Afghanistan has among the lowest literacy rates in the world and enormous challenges facing the education sector, which impact greatly on its broader development objectives. The Taliban regime denied women and girls the human right to education for over five years, in the vast majority of the country. This situation further exasperated an already dire situation, where little education infrastructure existed, there was a shortage of trained teachers and educated people after years of war, and poverty was endemic. Today, many of these challenges still exist but there have been vast improvements. Most significantly, girls are back in school and the numbers have steadily risen. The international community is working with the Afghan Government to build more schools and bring reforms to the education system, slowly but surely. Yet despite the impressive metrics, the quality of education remains the biggest challenge. Schools lack proper facilities- from safe drinking water and lavatories to school libraries and science labs. Most pupils still learn without textbooks, and most are taught by teachers with no post-secondary education, in over-crowded classrooms with students coming in several shifts a day. Some areas lack girls’ schools entirely and insecurity has negatively impacted girls’ access to education in particular. Canada, and the Canadian public, need to stand behind a long term commitment to helping the Afghan education sector get back on its feet. This is the most powerful possible antidote to conflict, and the greatest investment we can make in Afghanistan’s stability, peacebuilding, development and poverty alleviation.