What is life like for children living in Afghanistan?
Schools provide routine, a sense of security and a point of orientation. But some children don’t even get the chance to go to school. In some parts of the world children are dangerously vulnerable.
I have been featuring the lives of educators and children in different countries around the world to highlight their trials, tribulations and immense challenges.
It is easy for us to feel hard done by in our own schools and systems but when we pogo stick and look at life elsewhere then we get a better perspective.
I read a fascinating report from Al Jazeera News about the state of education in Afghanistan where about 50% of children don’t even get the chance to go to school. There are many reasons why and lots of them overlap including conflict, ingrained poverty, child marriage and discrimination.
50 percent of schools in Afghanistan are without buildings and 3.5 million children are deprived of education.
The situation for girls is desperate. According to UNICEF and as reported by Al Jazeera, “85 percent of girls were not going to school in some of the worst-affected provinces, such as Kandahar, Helmand, Wardak, Paktika, Zabul and Uruzgan.”
The lack of infrastructure, including toilets, handwashing facilities and safe drinking water are one of the reasons girls often don’t attend school. The majority of girls here have been displaced by conflict at least once and / or returned from Pakistan. UNICEF supports the school through the provision of tents, text books and teacher training. Some 3.7 million children are out of school in Afghanistan, with 75 percent of those being girls.
Adele Khodr, UNICEF Afghanistan Representative said,
When children are not in school, they are at an increased danger of abuse, exploitation and recruitment.
UNICEF plays a key role in helping getting children an education and supplies ‘tented schools’ such as this one on the outskirts of Jalalabad town, eastern Afghanistan:
With its difficult terrain and lack of schools in communities, some children can walk for over an hour to get to a nearest educational institution. In the poorest and remote areas of the country, enrolment levels vary extensively and girls still lack equal access.
See Out of School Children: Afghanistan – 2018 for more details.
The Afghan government has declared 2018 as the “Year of Education”.
Worsening security seen in recent years, and engrained poverty and discrimination, eliminate education gains made between 2002 and 2016.
If there are any attacks on schools in the West it is big news. Shootings in American schools make big headlines. But attacks in Afghani schools happen all the time and yet don’t make the front page.
On 30 June there was a horrific attack at a boys’ school in Nangahar Province. Islamic State are thought to be responsible.
Head teacher Atiqullah Hamdard said,
Unknown men entered our school, beheaded three of our guards and set fire to the administrative block in the school.
The attack was condemned by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which supports displaced Afghan children at the school.
The extent of human suffering in Afghanistan is grossly under-reported and the plight of vulnerable children is largely ignored.