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Great Progress in Education in Afghanistan . . . but More Needs to be Done. The international community (IC) has provided great sums of money to help the Afghan educational system grow. Education in Afghanistan has made great strides since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Over 30 years of conflict and strife has hampered the educational system of Afghanistan; but much has improved over the last decade and more. In 2002, less than one million boys attended school while girls had very little opportunity. Since that time over 13,000 schools have been built, almost 200,000 teachers hired, and more than 8 million students attend school - many of these students are girls. 4.

Challenges of Education in Afghanistan

Female Education. In many parts of Afghanistan female students cannot attend school. The Taliban have burned many schools down that allowed girls to attend school. This is especially true in the rural areas of southern Afghanistan.

Quantity and Quality of Teachers. In 2001 there were not many teachers who were qualified to instruct. The number of qualified teachers has grown but it has not kept pace with the large number of students needing an education. Under Afghan law teachers must complete a two-year training course (the equivalent of an Associates Degree) after high school; however less than 30% are actually qualified.

Pay and 'Ghost' Teachers. Other problems exist with teachers - including erratic pay and 'ghost' teachers. In Ghor province, at one time, over 90% of the teachers did not show up for work.

Lack of Female Teachers. In most of Afghanistan only females can teach female students in the higher grades of school. The quality and quantity of female teachers is low compared to the needs.

Corruption. As in all aspects of life in Afghanistan the educational system is corrupt. Money is diverted from educational purposes and put into the pockets of corrupt education officials. School supplies are diverted to personal use.

Empty Schools. A large number of schools have been built in Afghanistan. Some of these schools remain empty due to poor security or lack of teachers. Some schools are used for other government purposes or put to use for 'private' endeavors.

No Schools. Some parts of the country have no schools and classes are conducted in the open or under tents. In the hot summer and cold winters outdoor classes are not held; reducing the number of school days per year.

Inadequate Library System. The state of Afghan libraries is not good. The rapidly growing educated class and expanding student population is underserved by a very backward and inadequately funded library system.

Enrollment Numbers vs. Attendance Numbers. The number of students enrolled are likely higher than those actually attending. Attendance numbers are inflated to ensure that funding (based on enrollment) continues to flow to the communities.

Security Issues. Many schools lack teachers because they are located in contested areas or in poor rural areas. While teachers may have a job in these remote and unsecure areas they don't necessarily show up for work.

Taliban Influence. Many schools and school teachers have been co-opted by the Taliban. In areas where government control is weak or contested the Taliban have coerced the schools to teach a Taliban-approved education. There is widespread political activism within Afghan schools that is radicalizing Afghan students and contributing to the destabilization of the country. 

Educational Programs and Projects in Afghanistan

Lincoln Learning Centers by U.S.A. The Lincoln Learning Centers are partnerships between the Public Affairs sections of U.S. Embassies and host institutions. The centers provide access to current and reliable information about the U.S. via book collections, the Internet, and other media to the general public of Afghanistan. 1.

BELT by USAID. The objective of the Basic Education, Literacy, and Technical-Vocational Education and Training (BELT) program is to improve access to quality education services in Afghanistan. BELT provides project assistance and on-budget support. 2.

Basic Education Programme for Afghanistan (BEPA). The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) administers this program with the Afghan Ministry of Education as the executing agency. GIZ is supporting the Afghan Ministry of Education in implementing its National Education Strategic Plan. 3.

Websites with Information about Afghan Education

Afghan Ministry of Education

Education in Afghanistan. USAID.

Education in Afghanistan by Wikipedia

Publications, Briefings, and Reports about Afghan Education
(listed in chronological order)


Suroush, Qayoom and Christine Roehrs, Too Few, Badly Paid and Unmotivated: The teacher crisis and the quality of education in Afghanistan, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), August 22, 2015.

Strand, Arne, Financing Education in Afghanistan: Opportunities for Action,  Oslo Education Summit, July 2015. A country case study for the Oslo Summit on Education for Development.

AREU, The Politicisation of Afghanistan's High Schools, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, July 9, 2015. . . . AfghanistanHighSchools.pdf


USAID, Afghanistan Education Factsheet.


UNICEF, Afghanistan Education Factsheet, November 2011.

News Reports about Afghan Education

August 19, 2015. "Expanding and improving the quality of girls' education in Afghanistan", Brookings Institute.

July 20,2015."Have We Been Duped? The successful building of schools in Afghanistan may be overstated". Public Radio International (PRI).

April 2, 2015. "Afghanistan's Separate but Equal Edcuation System", by Saagar Enjeti, The Diplomat. Despite Ashraf Ghani's pledges in the United States, Afghanistan still has a long way to go on women's rights.

March 15, 2015. "From Afghanistan's Rubble, A Teacher Builds a School of Ideas", NPR Ed, March 15, 2015. A school teacher from Kabul is profiled about his success in establishing a school.

February 20, 2015. "In Afghanistan, teaching men that education is not a threat". The Christian Science Monitor. Sakena Yacoobi started the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) to education young girls. Then young boys started asking if she could teach them too.

February 16, 2015. "Germany building new engineering college in Balkh". Khaama Press. The new college will provide an education for 720 students studying the vocations of railway construction, road construction, plumbing, electricity, and masonry. Germany is providing 3.4 million Euros for the project.

October 24, 2013. "Are Afghanistan's Schools Doing As Well As Touted?" National Public Radio (NPR) Parallels. Questions arise on the "statistics" provided by USAID and other agencies about the success of education in Afghanistan.

July 20, 2013. "Despite Education Advances, a Host of Afghan School Woes". The New York Times. While much progress has been made; lots more work remains to be done.




1. For more on this topic see What are Lincoln Learning Centers?, Embassy of the United States - Kabul, Afghanistan.

2. For more on BELT see a USAID web page.

3. For more on BEPA see GIZ web page.

4. Figures taken from USAID Fact Sheet on education in Afghanistan, July 2014.

5. For more on libraries see "Reading in Kabul: the state of Afghan Libraries", Afghanistan Analysts Network, April 9, 2015.

6. For more on radicalization see "Study Finds Radicalization on the Rise in Afghan Schools", Tolo News, October 7, 2015.




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