Good achievements but need for more
Since 2001 the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has made significant achievements with the support of the Development Partners (DPs) in rebuilding Afghanistan’s education system. The number of children in school has risen by almost nine times. There were more than 9.2 million students in 1394 (2015), of which 39% are girls. The number of schools has increased from 3,400 to 16,400. School Shuras have played a key role in community participation in the education of children at the local level.
However, there is still a huge demand for education. The priority of the new government is to complete the building of more schools, to improve the quality and relevance of programmes, and to prepare graduates better for productive work. A large gap remains between provinces and between urban and rural areas. Over the next 5 years, the Ministry of Education aims to increase current low primary attendance and improve secondary school enrolments especially for poor and disadvantaged children in rural areas where only 21% of girls and 43% of boys attend school. It will streamline Ministry operations, improving the efficiency and harmonisation of donor funding and strengthen programme management. A major challenge is to improve data collection, reporting and analysis especially in addressing differential performance across the country. A detailed Education Sector Analysis (ESA) was conducted to provide the basis for discussion and planning. NESP III will serve as framework for the design of follow on donor programmes (EQUIP, GPE, etc.).
The Ministry of Education has the principal mandate for education in Afghanistan. However, other Ministries and government agencies also implement programmes. The Ministries of Higher Education, of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, of Hajj and Religious Affairs, of Women’s Affairs and of Rural Rehabilitation and Development all provide/support education services. Cooperation between Ministries must be improved and extended to the mutual benefit of all involved.
Afghanistan’s Development Partners (e.g. USAID, DFID, the World Bank, the UN Agencies and the Embassies of Sweden, Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, Norway, Finland and Denmark) have been fully involved in the planning process for NESP III. Civil society and NGO implementing partners have been represented also through the participation of the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, Save the Children, the Aga Khan Foundation and Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief. The Community Based Education programme in particular has ongoing support from Civil Society organisations. Aid effectiveness has always been an acknowledged priority, but is now vital for the success of NESP III.
The Strategic Plan is presented in three main sections: 1) Quality and relevance; 2) Equitable access, and 3) Efficient and transparent management. Past Plans reflected the institutional organisation of the Ministry and were divided into Programmes (General Education, Curriculum, Literacy, etc.). The change anticipates the planned review of Ministry structures and functions.
The common Goal of the Strategic Plan is to prepare skilled and competent citizens through the education system to sustain Afghanistan’s socioeconomic development and social cohesion.
Afghanistan is a fragile, post conflict society. The education system has to provide the country’s children and youth with a mind-set that shows the future of the country belongs to them. Education must satisfy the material and psychological needs of individuals and create a sense of shared social responsibility.