Girls' education in Afghanistan
Children in the extreme north-eastern province of Badakhshan
in Afghanistan derive some benefit from their remoteness from
the capital, Kabul. The province has traditionally been more committed
to education than most other areas of Afghanistan, despite its
poverty and susceptibility to earthquake damage.
Sitting on the floor of a classroom in
Faizabad, north-eastern Afghanistan, girls write in their
International agencies play a part in helping the under-resourced
local education department and promoting the education
of girls. The provision of educational materials has been a key
area of support. Another has been the training of local teachers.
In 2000, the World Food Programme, in cooperation with UNICEF
and the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee, started a food-for-education
programme in five pilot districts giving teachers and students
who attend school regularly a monthly ration of wheat and giving
girls an extra ration of edible oil.
Programmes like these are having a measurable impact. There were
45,000 children enrolled in school in 1993, 19 per cent were girls.
The latest official statistics show there are now 64,000 children
in school, one third are girls. In addition 29 per cent of the
teachers in the province are women, compared with 15 per cent
These are, of course, dismal figures in international terms and
compared with what is expected by the Convention on the Rights
of the Child. UNICEF will go on working to give every child in
the province, male or female, the educational opportunity that
is their right.
But in Badakshan, amid bleak conditions, the educational improvements
are encouraging. If a girls' education programme can make a difference
here, it can make a difference anywhere.