I am living in a society of which educational infrastructures have been repeatedly damaged during four decades of conflicts and civil wars; likewise, whose people need education more than anything else. In 2002, an estimated one million children, mostly boys, attended school, while women and girls were almost completely excluded from educational opportunities. Since then, the Afghan government, USAID, and international donors have worked together to rebuild Afghanistan’s education sectors. But it seems that despite the infusion of billions of USD by foreign countries into Afghanistan since 2001, still, Afghanistan is suffering from high poverty, widespread instability, and mainly high scale of illiteracy.
According to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education, currently,there are 17,500 active schools across the country. Of the 17,500 schools, 1,075 of them are closed due to severe violence and insecurity. There are more than 6 million children enrolled at schools in 34 provinces of Afghanistan.Around3.5 million children, according to UNICEF statistics, are not going to school – and 75 percent of them are girls. When it comes to illiteracy, the percentage is significantly high – 64 percent of people who are over the age of 15 are illiterate. It is argued that more than 400,000 children in Afghanistan annually– over 1,100 students per day are expected to abandon school due to growing instability.
Apart from widespread war conflicts in Afghanistan that led to closing schools and forcing families to avoid their children from going to schools, rampant and rooted administrative corruption in educational sectors is widening the gap between people and educational institutions. In June 2015, Afghanistan’s Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee reported that education was significantly undermined by bribery and nepotism.
As per 2015 SIGAR report, there were 75,000 ghost teachers and 3,500 ghost schools in Afghanistan when Farooq Wardak was the minister of education. In the meantime, it is argued that despite roughly $1 billion that the U.S. has spent on the Afghan education system, concerns rise over unqualified teachers, inadequate general education curriculum, students’ lack of access to textbooks, and unbalanced educational services. All the above challenges cause that more students are leaving schools incomplete, parents are losing their hopes from the educational sectors, and finally, this situation leads to more illiteracy in Afghanistan. And more illiteracy means disasters and challenges.
If Afghanistan’s Z-Generation is bereft of obtaining education because of conflicts and insecurity, Afghanistan might be stuck in the trenches of wars and adversities for the rest of 21 century. Ultimately, Afghanistan’s twenty-first-century generation will encounter the fate of their twentieth-century generation – fathers and grandfathers who were kept away from schooling due to social, economic and mainly political problems and conflicts. It means another dark century for the young generation of Afghanistan. Worse than that when Afghanistan’s Z-Generation is deprived of education and development, it threatens and challenges the fate of A-1 generation in Afghanistan who are not born yet.
The government of Afghanistan may not be able to embrace a bright and strong economy, political stability, and stable peace in the future unless paying serious attention to the education of its youth. In other words, the key to bringing sustainable changes in the lives of Afghanistan’s citizenry is pertaining to the education of its young generation. As Erasmus very vividly and nicely articulates, “The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth.” So, the future of security stability, economic development, democratic government, civic awareness in Afghanistan, and finally giving hopes to Afghans for a better future lies in investing on educating the young generation of this country.
Researchers argue that there is less chance of occurring fights between two educated persons because they know that wars will hurt both of them. But there is more possibility that two illiterate persons fight with each other over an issue due to having narrow understanding the consequences of the skirmishes. Likewise, I can easily cope with a Pashtun who is going to school, but I am afraid of a Pashtun who is deprived of schooling. I can easily live together with a Tajik who prefers education to wars and violence, but I am worried about a Tajik who is not encouraged toward gaining education. Finally, I may have problems with a Hazara who decides to leave schools because of financial challenges, but I am not afraid of a Hazara who is being helped by the government to obtain education. By and large, the future of Afghanistan’s economic, political, and security improvement is tied to the education of its today’s youth and children.