Five million children not in school
KANDAHAR, 21 April 2009 (IRIN) - Razia, aged 10,
cannot go to school because doing so is deemed too
risky for girls in the southern province of Kandahar,
and because her father believes only boys should
“My father says schools are not for girls and that
girls should work at home,” she told IRIN in Kandahar,
adding that she had always wanted to go to school and
become a doctor.
Her father, Abdul Rahim, said: “I am not the only
father banning my daughter from school… No man wants
his daughter or sister to be attacked and disgraced by
the Taliban for schooling,” Rahim said.
His fears are not baseless: In November 2008,
unidentified attackers sprayed acid over a dozen of
female students and teachers in Kandahar Province in
what was seen as a move to discourage girls’
Conservative customs, poverty, lack of educational
facilities and a strong culture of gender
discrimination have deprived over five million
school-age children (over three million of them girls)
of an education, according to aid agencies and the
Ministry of Education (MoE). That is roughly one third
of Afghanistan’s under 18 population of about 14.5
million in 2007, according to the UN Children’s Fund.
Most illiterate children are girls. According to
the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO), literacy rates for Afghan
females aged 15-24 in comparison to their male peers
were on average about 10 percent lower
Lack of schools
Afghanistan has some 12,000 public schools (primary
and secondary). Roughly half of them do not have a
building: students assemble in tents and/or in the
open, say officials.
Insurgents have torched hundreds of schools and
killed dozens of teachers and students over the past
four years in a country which desperately needs more
schools and teachers.
About 700 schools were reportedly closed because of
insecurity and attacks in 2008, though some have been
re-opened over the past few months, the MoE has said.
Over six million students, about 34 percent of them
female, were enrolled in public schools in 2009 and
the government has vowed to double that number by
Afghanistan is one of the least literate countries
in the world. Only 18 percent of women and 50 percent
of men are able to read and write, according to
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a
project the Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs. IRIN is UN humanitarian news and
information service, but may not necessarily reflect
the views of the United Nations or its agencies.