For each of the past five years, Afghanistan has been identified by the United Nations as the world’s deadliest country for children and, despite progress made in peace talks between the government and the Taliban, child and youth casualties from the ongoing conflict continue to mount in 2020.
Q&A WITH EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT DIRECTOR YASMINE SHERIF ON AFGHANISTAN PROGRAMME LAUNCH
Q&A WITH EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT DIRECTOR YASMINE SHERIF ON AFGHANISTAN PROGRAMME LAUNCH
Why is education important for Afghanistan?
While Afghanistan is making progress in improving access to education, approximately 3.7 million children remain out of school. 2017 saw nearly half a million newly displaced people in Afghanistan, as well as an influx of over 600,000 Afghans returning from Iran and Pakistan. Droughts connected with climate change and other conflicts are pushing more people to migrate and undermining efforts to get more children in school.
More than half of returnee girls and boys are currently out of school due to the lack of capacity of schools to enroll additional children, lack of required documentation to facilitate enrollment, cost factors, and language, gender and cultural barriers.
Education is an essential building block in Afghanistan’s progress toward peace, security and sustainable economic development. Education brings empowerment and enlightenment. We can’t afford to lose another generation to war, conflict and displacement.
Tell us about the new programme
The three-year programme will target the most vulnerable children in Afghanistan, with a particular focus on girls, internally displaced children, and returnee refugee communities. Education Cannot Wait and the Government of Sweden have provided the seed funding to get this programme started, and get Afghanistan’s children back in school, with US$12 million in funding from Education Cannot Wait and a generous US$10 million grant from the government of Sweden.
It will be implemented and managed through a broad coalition of international organizations, national and international NGOs, and representatives from the national government and civil society. Key partners include the Afghan Ministry of Education, IOM, OCHA, OHCHR, UNAMA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOPS, UNHCR, WFP, WHO, the World Bank and Education Cannot Wait, alongside National and International NGOs such as Save The Children, Norwegian Refugee Council and International Rescue Committee.
The programme builds on the progress made through Education Cannot Wait’s US$3.4 million first emergency response, which focused on access to basic education for the most vulnerable children – returnees, internally displaced children, girls, children in isolated rural areas – through community-based education, providing teaching and learning materials, and teacher training and recruitment.
Up to US$35 million will be required annually from international donors and national entities to cover the full cost of the multi-year programme. We are calling on the global community to step up and be counted. Funding education in Afghanistan isn’t just the right thing to do for our global humanity, it will also power our work to end poverty and hunger by 2030, and ensure universal access to education for every girl and boy in Afghanistan. Our work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal 4, which calls for equitable access to education for every girl and boy on the planet by 2030, cannot be compromised. Education cannot wait for an entire generation of Afghan children that risk being left behind.
What impacts are anticipated on the ground from this programme?
In a country where a lack of female teachers and cultural biases have severely limited educational opportunities for girls, the investment will recruit, train and provide financial support for 14,000 teachers, over 60 per cent of whom will be women. It will also set up 2,500 gender-sensitive water and sanitation facilities, and build an awareness campaign to reach over 150,000 people.
Through this joint work, the programme looks to improve numeracy, literacy and educational resilience for children by 10 per cent, increase school attendance by 30 percent to get 460,000 girls and boys back in school, and nearly triple the number of existing primary and pre-primary learning spaces from 5760 (2017) to 16,500. The investment will also provide learning materials, such as textbooks and notebooks, to 500,000 children, including 325,000 girls.
Distance and danger hinder access to schools in Afghanistan, especially for girls. The investment will provide transport for 40,000 children to educational facilities, including 26,000 girls.
With so many returnee and displaced children, special emphasis will be paid to helping integrate children into the education system. To get children back on track, over a quarter million displaced girls and boys will be supported in obtaining documentation and school certification, and catch-up classes in Dari and Pashto languages will be extended to some 276,000 children.
How will this programme work to close the gender gap?
In Afghanistan, education is largely delivered along gender lines, with very few mixed-gender schools. And a lack of girls-only schools and female teachers provides a significant barrier to education for the 2.2 million girls that are still left behind. That’s more than the total population of Qatar and Luxembourg combined.
The Ministry of Education has just recently launched its Girls’ Education Policy specifically to remove barriers to education for all Afghan girls and women, to close the gender gap in the school enrollment of girls and boys, and to bring out-of-school girls into the education system.
In alignment with this policy, the programme will focus on a wide spectrum of actions, such as: creating safe school environments, including supporting community transport for girls to travel safely to school; supporting displaced girls and boys to obtain documentation and schooling certification; implementing community-based education to reach children, especially girls, in rural and isolated areas; developing and rolling-out distance learning packages for hard-to-reach locations and communities, such as radio education programmes, self-learning materials; and providing training to 20,000 teachers, especially female teachers.
What has Education Cannot Wait achieved so far in Afghanistan?
This new multi-year investment will scale-up and accelerate Education Cannot Wait’s initial US$3.4 million 12-month investment in Afghanistan announced in June 2017. This rapid response programme aimed to provide immediate relief to children in need of educational support. It focused on access to basic education for the most vulnerable children – Afghan returnees, internally displaced children, host community children, girls, children in rural and isolated areas – through community-based education, providing teaching and learning materials, and teacher training and recruitment.
The programme successfully reached 35,000 children, including 59 per cent girls, providing them with access to formal and non-formal education, including community-based education. Through this programme, Education Cannot Wait partnered with a local NGO, Wadan, to reach children in the most head to reach areas. For example, through this local partner, we were able to recruit and train a female biology teacher in a community of displaced people in Radat. With a new biology teacher, some 40 girls have returned to class. We were also able to provide hope and a sense of normalcy to children who fled violence in the Nangarhar’s Achin District. We provided these uprooted children with sense of normalcy and restored hope thanks to the community school we set up in displaced people settlements.
Education Cannot Wait is determined to mainstream and accelerate these successes to reach more of Afghanistan’s vulnerable girls and boys and support the government in providing long-term solution to integrate them into the education system.
The Government of Afghanistan, Education Cannot Wait, UNICEF and a coalition of UN, NGO partners and donors launch a multi-year education response programme to benefit ½ million children annually
Kabul, Afghanistan, 21 February 2019 – Today, the Government of Afghanistan, the Education Cannot Wait, global fund for education in crisis, and UNICEF launched a multi-year (2018 – 2021) education response programme, for which an initial US$ 22 million has been secured. The new programme will support the government’s policy on community based-education and improve access to safe and reliable education for 500,000 most vulnerable children, including 325,000 girls, in Afghanistan annually.
During the past decade, Afghanistan has been making progress in improving children’s access to education. Primary school enrollment rate increased from 1 million to 8.5 million between 2002 and 2019. Yet, violence, poverty and drought are among the many issues that threaten to reverse these gains. Approximately 3.7 million children remain out-of-school. Girls and children with disabilities are especially vulnerable. About 60 per cent of the out-of-school children are girls, and only 5 per cent of children with disabilities are able to access education.
Only half of the schools in Afghanistan are housed in buildings, and 1,000 schools remain inactive or closed due to security issues. Reports of attacks on schools have increased significantly during 2018, putting children at risk of injury, increased violence and threats of dropping of out-of-school.
The ECW programme in Afghanistan will contribute to reducing the number of out-of-school children in Afghanistan by identifying the most vulnerable boys and girls who have been affected by emergencies, and providing them with immediate learning opportunities. Using community-based and innovative initiatives over a three-year period, access to quality education will increase particularly for girls, and at the same time teachers and community members will be key stakeholders in the process.
“Today’s education provides the foundation for tomorrow’s economic recovery and growth and supports society as a whole”. says Dr. Mohammad Mirwais Balkhi, Minister of Education of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. “This new programme is part of our commitment to ensure that every girl and boy in Afghanistan are in school and learning by the year 2030.”
The multi-year response programme, whose total cost is US$ 157 million is facilitated by Education Cannot Wait and is implemented by a broad coalition of international and national organisations. Building on the significant progress made through Afghanistan’s first emergency response in providing most vulnerable children access to schools, the programme aspires to raise over US$ 35 million for unmet needs in the first year.
“The Government of Sweden, and its people are committed to supporting the most vulnerable girls’ and boys’ education,” says Ambassador Tobias Thyberg, Embassy of Sweden in Afghanistan, who is representing the significant donor country to this programme. “Through innovative community-based approaches, we can help retain school attendance, improve quality of education, and create a safe and protective learning environment.”
This programme resonates with the aims of the Ministry of Education Girls’ Education Policy to remove barriers to education for all Afghan girls and women; to close the gender gap in the school enrollment of boys and girls, and to bring out-of-school girls into the education system; and to undertake affirmative action for girl students and female education personnel.
“This is a new way of working in delivering education in emergencies, by bridging humanitarian and development aid efforts. Only by working together can we achieve universal education by 2030,” says Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “The girls and boys of Afghanistan have suffered enough and have a right to develop their potentials to rebuild this war-torn country. Today, we have an opportunity to invest in them through quality education, to empower them to fulfill their full potential and that of their country. Let us seize it, sustain it and never let go of it.”
Download Afghanistan MYRP Factsheet
For more information, please contact:
Mohammad Kabir Haqmal, Director General of Information & Publication- MoE, Mobile: + 93(0) 700186150, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Monica Awad, UNICEF Afghanistan, mobile: +93 730717111, email@example.com
Mr. Feridoon Aryan, UNICEF Afghanistan, mobile: +93 (0) 730 717 115, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Anouk Desgroseilliers, Education Cannot Wait +1 917 640-6820; email@example.com
 Afghanistan Ministry of Education, IOM, OCHA, OHCHR, UNAMA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOPS, UNHCR, WFP, WHO, the World Bank and Education Cannot Wait, national and international NGOs such as Save The Children, Norwegian Refugee Council and International Rescue Committee.
ECW provides its largest allocation to date to support quality education for 1.6 million crisis-affected children and youth in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Uganda
20 September 2018, New York – The Education Cannot Wait fund (ECW) is allocating a total of US$35 million as seed funding to support the launch of three ground-breaking multi-year education programmes designed to deliver quality learning opportunities to 1.6 million children and youth affected by conflict and violence.
This is the largest allocation from the ECW Fund since its inception. It comprises $11 million to support the Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host communities in Uganda, $12 million allocated to the Delivering Collective Education Outcomes in Afghanistan programme, and $12 million to support Education for Rohingya Refugees and Host Communities in Bangladesh.
“The launch of these three multi-year programmes marks a turning point in the way the multilateral aid system delivers education in emergencies and protracted crises,” said Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmine Sherif. “It sets concrete examples of ‘the new way of working’ through cooperation and collaboration between humanitarian and development actors. It is about all coming together, about how global, national and local stakeholders join forces to find solutions to provide quality education and restore hope to millions of children and youth caught up in some of the most difficult circumstances of conflict and displacement.”
ECW is pioneering the new way of working in the education-in-emergencies sector to strengthen the links between relief and development efforts, and deliver rapid and sustainable responses to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4. The Fund provided the impetus and supported the development by in-country partners of the three multi-year programmes, acting as a catalyst to bring together humanitarian and development actors.
“The announcement of ECW’s allocation today is the starting line. In order to deliver on our collective obligation to fulfill the right to education of all children in conflict and crisis, public and private donors must deepen and expand their investment specifically addressing education in humanitarian contexts,” said Sherif. “Valued stakeholders and donors have already indicated their support to these ECW-facilitated programmes, and we are confident additional actors will come forward and contribute.”
The three ECW-facilitated multi-year education programmes aim to provide quality education to refugees, internally displaced, and host community and vulnerable children and youth as follows:
- In Uganda: The 3.5-year programme calls for contributions of $389 million to reach over 560,000 refugee and host community children and youth, recruit and remunerate more than 9,000 teachers on a yearly basis, train over 12,500 teachers and build close to 3,000 classrooms yearly. The response plan has been developed under the leadership of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and UNHCR, and will be managed by consortium facilitated by Save the Children. Other key partners include UN Agencies, bilateral donors, and international and local civil society organizations. To date, $80 million in contributions from the Government and its partners has been identified, including ECW’s seed funding.
In Afghanistan: The 3-year programme calls for contributions of $150 million to reach over 500,000 internally displaced and returnee children and youth as well as vulnerable children in remote areas and host communities. It will create an inclusive teaching and learning environment; improve continuity of education; and create safer and more protective learning environments, with a target of 50 per cent towards girls’ access to quality education. The key partners facilitating the programme under the leadership of the Ministry of Education include UNICEF, Save the Children, UN agencies, bilateral donors, and international and local civil society organizations. To date, $22 million in contributions has been allocated to the programme, including ECW’s seed funding.
- In Bangladesh: The 2-year framework calls for contributions of $222 million to build on the existing emergency response and reach over 560,000 refugee and host community children and youth and 9,800 teachers in Cox’s Bazar district. It is an extension of the humanitarian response and is therefore aligned with the current Joint Response Plan. Key partners who have participated in the development of this framework include UNHCR, UNESCO, UNICEF, and international and local civil society organizations. To date over $97 million has been allocated towards the framework, including ECW’s seed funding..
This $35 million allocation brings ECW’s investments to a total of $127 million in 17 crisis-affected countries since the Fund became operational eighteen months ago. ECW’s investments are currently reaching 765,000 children and youth in the world’s worst crises, half of whom are girls and adolescent girls. The number of children and youth reached will now scale up significantly.
The full press release is available here.
In war-torn Afghanistan displaced children find hope to receive an education
Rabidullah is just 12 years old. He’s a tough kid. Smart, energetic and interested in the world around him. But Rabidullah is living a life interrupted by war.
In October 2017, fighting between ISIS, Taliban and Government Troops uprooted the boy, who was attending the fourth grade at the Teko School in Nangarhar’s Achin District. Now Rabidullah lives in the Shaheedan Village displacement camp. There are no school facilities, books, classrooms or teachers for Rabidullah and the countless other kids like him that lack access to safe, high-quality free education.
“I suffered. I lost my home, my classmates and my teacher, and was left without a school, class or books,” said Rabidullah.
While life in the refugee camp is tough, a new light is providing an opportunity for young people like Rabidullah to find a piece of safety and normalcy in a world turned upside down.
With financial support from Education Cannot Wait, a global fund dedicated to helping the 75 million children and youth worldwide who live in crisis-affected areas and are deprived from reliable education, a new community-based school is being established in the Shaheedan camp.
While the school gets started, a number of community activists, Mullahs and elders (“shuras”) have come together to volunteer to teach the displaced children living in the village.
“I will start teaching these pupils to read and write and will mobilize others to dedicate time to teach the camp children,” said Mr. Rafiqullah, one of the first volunteers to sign up to teach in the Shaheedan camp.
This means new hope for the children of war living in Afghanistan, and a new hope to shape young minds, end illiteracy and empower a whole new generation of Afghanis as the nation works toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
“I thought that our children’s future had been destroyed and lost forever. I could not imagine that my children would find a place to learn,” said Rabidullah’s Mother. “This is a very remote area, an isolated, rugged desert without government facilities. However, this program has revived our hopes and will help build our future.”
With financial support from Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the Welfare Association for the Development of Afghanistan (WADAN) implements community-based interventions to provide education for children affected by crisis in six districts of Nangarhar Province: Khogyani, Surkhroad, Behsood, Shiwa, Kama and Rodat. The goal of the project is to provide safe, quality, free education to 10,000 children that are not able to attend school. These children and youth include returnees, internally displaced people (IDP) and host community children aged 3-18. As part of global efforts to ensure inclusive access to education, the programme in Afghanistan also focuses on children with disabilities and prioritizes education opportunities for girls, young women and the most vulnerable.