Free and compulsory education was established in Afghanistan’s l964 constitution, but the war and turmoil that accelerated in the l980’s destroyed that hope. Two generations have now grown up with little formal public schooling. The opportunity for girls to go to school in Afghanistan has always been less than for boys, but under the repressive years of Taliban control it was nearly impossible. A decade ago only 1 million children were enrolled in school, nearly all of them boys. By 2013 that number had grown to 10 million, 40% of them girls. But many enrolled children attend irregularly, and fewer than 1 in 10 makes it to 12th grade.
The Ministry of Education struggles to find qualified teachers and build schools. Everyone agrees that the goal is to create a functional public school system, but in the meantime, private efforts are critical. There are many inspiring examples of Afghan parents connecting with private organizations to help them open schools. I was fortunate to visit four of them:
Afghan Institute for Learning, Kabul (www.creatinghope.org)
Bostan School, Save the Children (www.savethechildren.org)
Farza School, Save the Children (www.savethechildren.org)
Paghman pre-school, Parsa (www.afghanistan-parsa.org)