Afghanistan has been in the German media’s spotlight for many years. In particular issues like the participation of German troops in the ISAF mission and Afghanistan’s further development after the end of this mission attract attention. However, education issues and, much more important, educational opportunities for young people in this war-torn country are discussed only rarely.
Afghanistan is a quite young country with almost half its population being younger than 15 years old. In the light of this young population a good educational situation is crucial for Afghanistan, because these young people will influence and shape the country in a few years. In order to foster such a development a solid and profound education is vital.
Read more about the background
Currently, the level of education in Afghanistan is still poor. Its illiteracy rate of about 70 % is very high compared to international standard. This stands in sharp contrast to the history of education policy in Afghanistan. Already in 1904 the first public school was established, being modelled on western standards. Then, in 1932 the first university was founded in Kabul. Especially in larger cities like Kabul and Herat the education system reached a temporary climax at the end of the 1960s when a great number of new schools were founded and when men and women had equal rights to attend lectures. With the fall of King Zahir Schah in 1973, the proclamation of republic, the beginning of the civil war and the Russian invasion in 1979, many intellectuals fled to bordering countries or died in war. Devastation of infrastructures as well as the degradation of statehood accelerated the decay of education. When the country was forced to adopt the Russian education system the number of enrolments at schools and universities decreased and thus Afghans moved further away from their previously high educational level. After the Taliban took power in 1996 women were forbidden to visit school. From then on Islamic schools, so called madrassas, were responsible for any education so that teaching involved only Koran studies as well as basic reading, writing and calculating. Since 2001, with the collapse of the Taliban regime, the educational situation has fundamentally improved. Currently, about 7 million students are registered at Afghan schools of which 37% are girls.
A Multi-Ethnic State
Afghanistan is a multiethnic state in which about 49 different languages are spoken. The two main local tongues, Dari and Paschtu, are accepted as official languages. The Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group and constitute 42% of the entire population. The Tajiks, being the second largest ethnicity, represent 27% of the Afghan population. There are more large groups like Aimaks, Turkmen, Hazara people, Uzbeks or the nomadic people of Kuchi. This diversity is a consequence of the arbitrary border demarcation by the British colonialists; for example, the Durand line between Afghanistan and Pakistan parts the settlement zone of the Pashtuns.
The absence of an intellectual elite and a weak middle class lead to a lack of qualified young people in Afghanistan. However, economic progress and a significant improvement of living conditions can only be reached with well-trained and educated personnel efficient structures, and successful companies. Hence, our aim is to encourage the designers of tomorrow to enable sustainable development.