The History of the Middle East

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How has Afghanistan responded to the issue of education?

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I think that the short answer is that Afghanistan has not responded very well over the last decade and a half to the crisis of education in its country.  I also think that it is really difficult to blame the nation for this, given its upheaval over the last two decades.  There was a time when Afghanistan, specifically the University of Kabul, attracted students from all over Asia as a beacon of education.  That changed, like so much, with the rule of the Taliban, a force that strictly looked down on education for everyone.  In particular, women's education was forbidden during Taliban rule.  Schools were set aside in place of religious learning and a crisis in education resulted.  A UNICEF study identified "nine out of ten girls" and "two out of three boys" as being denied an education.  Under the Taliban rule, education was seen as having to be subservient to political obedience.  Naturally, this was done to consolidate the control of the Taliban over the people.  When the Taliban was ousted, the world's attention fell onto Afghanistan in helping build schools.  Now, there are more schools and more children attending them than under the Taliban, but there are a lack of trained teachers in Afghanistan, making learning a challenge.  At the same time, a division between rural and urban settings has emerged, with tribal and agrarian areas either dissuading girls from attending school or even embracing Taliban ways by forbidding education, in general.  As Afghanistan struggles to maintain political control in a steady and embedded democratic form, the issue of education has had to be put on the backburner while other issues such as national security, government legitimacy, and how to handle the role of American military forces in the future become of immediate and central importance.  When American forces do leave, the question will be whether or not Afghanistan will continue to support education as it has been able to do now with the influx of foreign aid and support.  Is there enough of a homegrown and indigenous support for education that it can withstand the difficulties of Western support being absent?  This becomes the central issue for Afghanistan and its response to education going forward.

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