Afghanistan Girls’ Education Initiative gets a boost
A three-year plan to promote girls’ education was developed in Kabul this week during a workshop organized by the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, in collaboration with Afghanistan’s Girls’ Education Initiative working group. Over 50 representatives from ministries, United Nations agencies and non-governmental and research organizations working in the area of girls’ education participated in the workshop.
“To improve the situation of girls’ education in Afghanistan, it is imperative that the country develops focused interventions and addresses the barriers that prevent girls from attending schools”, says Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan.
The new plan seeks to accelerate girls’ enrolment by promoting girl-friendly schools, providing nutrition services in schools, training female teachers and reaching out to girls who are out of school.
Afghanistan is recovering from three decades of conflict and the challenges facing its education system are dire. During the time of the Taliban, girls were not officially allowed to attend schools. Government statistics indicate that there were no girls enrolled in schools in 2001.
However, girls’ enrolment at the primary level has increased dramatically in the past five years. According to the Ministry of Education, almost 4.9 million children were enrolled in school in 2005, an increase of nearly four million children since the fall of the Taliban.
Today, primary level enrolment of boys is nearly twice that of girls. At the lower secondary level, boys’ enrolment is three times higher and at the higher secondary level boys are almost four times more likely than girls to be enrolled. The ratio becomes even more dramatic in rural areas.
The Ministry of Education developed the country’s first National Education Strategic Plan for Afghanistan in December 2006. It is a guiding framework for educational activities throughout the country over the next five years. The plan represents the ambitions and aspirations of the government and people of Afghanistan for improved access and quality of education.
Girls’ education has received special attention in the strategic plan and has also been integrated in all priority programmes to increase the net enrolment rate for girls and boys in primary grades to at least 60 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively, by 2010.
To support the ministry’s objectives for girls’ education, Afghanistan Girls’ Education Initiative (AGEI) was launched in March 2007. It offers a forum for extensive information sharing, networking and funding for improved coordination and collaboration on girls’ education. The forum links local and national initiatives and draws necessary expertise from within the country and from regional and global networks.
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