High Stakes: Girls’ Education in Afghanistan

Published: 24 February 2011

Millions of girls have entered school in Afghanistan, since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. It is one of the few good news stories of the last nine years. However, the deteriorating security situation and the international community’s focus on stabilization and counter-insurgency rather than on long-term development means this good news story is in danger of turning bad. A new approach from both the Afghan government and donors is urgently required to hold onto the gains that have been made.

This report is based on field research carried out in the summer of 2010 in 17 provinces out of a total of 34 in Afghanistan. It was conducted by Oxfam and 15 partner organizations, including 13 Afghan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) plus CARE and Swedish Committee of Afghanistan (SCA).

Key recommendations:

Oxfam is calling on the Afghan government and donors to develop a new approach to girls’ education to hold onto gains made, and to increase access to education for girls across Afghanistan. With NATO nations preparing for withdrawal by 2014, we also want to ensure that major donors sustain their support for development, especially in the education sector, over the long term.

The international community should:

  • Focus on improving secondary and higher levels of education;
  • Support the Afghan government to increase the number of female-friendly, well-equipped schools for girls, especially in rural or remote areas;
  • Increase the number and quality of female teachers, especially in rural or remote areas;
  • Ensure that girls’ access to education is not sacrificed in any political settlement (with insurgent groups) and girls’ access to education continues to improve.

The Afghanistan Ministry of Education should:

  • Improve the monitoring and accountability of schools.

Report author:

Primary author is Ashley Jackson, OI Head of Policy and Advocacy in Afghanistan – however, this is a joint agency research paper – carried out by the following organizations:

Afghan Civil Society Forum (ACSF)
Afghan Development Association (ADA)
Afghan Peace and Democracy Act (APDA)
Afghan Women’s Network (AWN)
Afghan Women Services and Education Organization (AWSE)
All Afghan Women’s Union (AAWU)
CARE
Cooperation Center for Afghanistan (CCA)
Coordination of Afghan Relief (CoAR)
Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (CHA)
Education Training Center for Poor Women and Girls of Afghanistan (ECW)
Legal and Cultural Services for Afghan Women and Children (LCSAWC)
Oxfam
Sanayee Development Organization (SDO)
Shuhada
Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA)

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