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Standardizing education

There is no denying to the fact that education is essential for a state to stand on solid foundations and steer in the direction that would guarantee socioeconomic development—a dream of all Afghans, irrespective of gender or tribal background. Yet, a whole array of problems marred uplift of this vital sector as thousands of children have no access to quality education and work on the streets to help parents in meeting the daily family needs such as food and shelter.

Besides joblessness, skyrocketing price-hike and growing insecurity, ineffectiveness of the relevant authorities to highlight the gray areas and overcome the outstanding problems is a serious setback to the education sector. As per estimates there are around 11 million children who attend classes in 17,000 schools. As many as 217,000 teachers are busy in educating the young-folk across the country, but the number of female teachers and school buildings is insufficient. Over 312 schools alone in Kunar province have no buildings while the shortage of teachers is another challenge to overcome. The deputy education director in the province, Abdul Qahar Akhunzada acknowledged the shortage of female teachers. Hundreds of children are attending classes under the open sky and in tents. Only 166 schools had proper buildings.

Looking at the overall situation, the future of the education sector is not promising too much as the sector is shrouded in uncertainty and there are two big hitches to the system. One is insecurity and the second is the absence of a comprehensive mechanism for complete overhaul of the education system. Reforms in the system had been on the drawing boards for quite long but the efforts of the government in many areas were stalled by insecurity. There had been discussion for years how to reverse the anti-education elements’ ability to strike. It is understood that the education sector has the potential to improve local living standards, but for the government it has proven persistently difficult to take the potential and turn it into a prize due to crippling pressure of insecurity and insufficient budget.

The whole labyrinth of the Afghan education system has been under the spotlight in the past decade, but nothing considerable has been done to overhaul the system. The current curriculum taught in educational institutes is explicitly in contravention with modern-day needs. There is an implied threat that failure of the government to overhaul the system would lead to complicated social, political and economic challenges. For freedom from unpleasant consequences and to stave off the social challenges, there is no other option but to address all parameters and ensure every single child has access to equal and quality education.

When the anti-education elements, mostly insurgent groups supported by regional spy agencies, are making dastardly attempts every day to prevent children from getting education, there is a dire need to challenge aggressively the problems for the sake of Afghanistan’s development.

Unfortunately, the relevant authorities have put the improvement of the education system on backburner. For them, the delay is not so calamitous. However, it would certainly have serious implications over all sectors because it is education that produces qualified brains to run the state machinery smoothly.

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