Girls’ education in Afghanistan: Green shoots of progress

The World Bank recently published an article about primary school attendance in Afghanistan, focused primarily on girls. The article outlines the progress that’s been made but also identifies the considerable challenges still faced by girls in terms of education.

The Aga Khan Foundation has been working in the field of girls’ education for some time in Afghanistan. Our current DFID-funded programme which commenced in 2013 builds on our previous programmes and lessons learned.

This programme, which is being implemented across 16 provinces, has, to date, educated 135,000 girls (and 111,000 boys), trained 6,000 teachers and engaged over 100,000 community members.

Bucking the trend of girls dropping out of school, over 96% of girls have stayed in school at the ECD level and at the primary level. And the girls are scoring significantly higher in reading and math assessments than their peers at other schools. This is just the start but we see some green shoots of progress.

Here’s five reasons we’ve seen success so far:

  1. We’ve opened  schools near where girls live. By reducing risks to girls traveling to and from school, parents are far more likely to allow their girls to walk to school ensuring they attend,  stay in school and transition at key points in their lives.
  2. We’ve trained female teachers. Parents are far more comfortable having their girls educated by women so this programme has focused on working with the government to recruit female teachers and trained thousands of women to become teachers.
  3. We’ve worked with local communities and religious leaders from the beginning to demonstrate the value of girls’ education. Once it becomes clear why girls’ education is so important often some of the most resistant members of the community have become the greatest champions of girls’ education and helped persuaded others of its importance.
  4. We’ve worked with local government to inform and shape policy that is more responsive to educating girls.  By working closely with and through the government at all levels, we’ve been able to support systemic change and ensure greater commitment towards girls’ education.
  5. We work with girls from the early years  to secondary level ensuring there is a continuous ladder of learning.  Providing safe and high quality learning opportunities at all stages means that girls are less likely to drop out as they get older and creates a path towards longer term education.

We hope to expand this programme in the coming years and build on the experience we have gained and significantly share this knowledge with other actors delivering girls’ education in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

For more information, please contact Aleeza Mitha, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Aga Khan Foundation UK

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