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Campaign urges Afghan families to enrol their daughters in school

© UNICEF video
UNICEF estimates that more than 1 million primary school age girls across Afghanistan are not enrolled in school.

KABUL, Afghanistan, 21 March 2005 - A nationwide campaign promoting the value of girls’ education has begun across Afghanistan, as many parts of the country prepare for a new school year commencing at the end of March.

The campaign was officially launched at Ayesha Durani High School – one of the most famous girls’ schools in Kabul – on 12 March 2005.

The opening ceremony was led by the Minister of Education, His Excellency Noor Mohammed Qarqeen. Also present were UNICEF Representative Bernt Aasen; representatives of the Government, the United Nations, and the donor community; and many Afghan schoolchildren.

Changing attitudes to girls’ education

© UNICEF Afghanistan/2005
UNICEF Representative Bernt Aasen (left), 12-year-old schoolgirl Shugoofa Sahar, and Afghan Deputy Minister for Education Sayed Hussain Ishraq Hussaini formally launch a new girls’ education awareness campaign on 12 March 2005 in Kabul.

The public awareness campaign is the result of substantive research undertaken throughout the country in 2004. The research looked at the main barriers in Afghanistan to educating all children, especially girls. The research cited obstacles such as lack of female teachers and inadequate school facilities. But it also showed that girls’ education is still undervalued in many communities, and it is this issue that the campaign will specifically address.

Using the core messages that it is the duty of every Muslim to seek knowledge, and that an educated girl is a source of pride for an Afghan family, the campaign focuses on influential individuals in the community, including religious leaders, teachers, elders and parents. Printed materials and radio and television spots have already filtered out across the country.

UNICEF estimates that more than 1 million of Afghanistan’s primary school age girls are not enrolled in school. Furthermore, at least 90 per cent of the primary school age girls in five of Afghanistan’s 32 provinces are not attending school. “For a nation attempting to rebuild itself, to grow, to become more stable, and to restart the economy, every one of the 1 million girls represents a wasted potential for Afghanistan,” said UNICEF Representative Bernt Aasen at the launch of the campaign.

‘Continue your support’

© UNICEF Afghanistan/2005
A UNICEF truck, covered with banners and posters advocating girls’ education and playing the new ‘Girls’ Education Anthem’ through loudspeakers, weaves through a Kabul street.

Twelve-year-old schoolgirl Shugoofa Sahar also attended the launch ceremony. “On behalf of all Afghan girls I want to thank our Ministry of Education for all the progress we have seen in recent years. I also want to encourage the international community to continue your support to education of girls in Afghanistan,” said Shugoofa.

To help bring more children into school, UNICEF has formed a partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Education this year. An estimated $19 million will be allocated to help establish community-based classes for up to 500,000 girls in villages and provide training programmes for 25,000 primary grade teachers.

The grant will also be used to help develop curricula and to supply stationery and classroom materials for more than 4.5 million children and 105,000 teachers. The new campaign will complement these practical measures in order to push towards an education for all in Afghanistan.




21 March 2005:
UNICEF’s Edward Carwardine reports on a nationwide campaign promoting girls’ education across Afghanistan.

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