THE GOOD NEWS:
A surge in humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan has resulted in a 10% increase in college-age enrollment.
In the midst of ongoing geopolitical conflict, children are often the most invisible victims, going without reliable access to education or even a sense of routine. Such is the case in Afghanistan, where only about 1 million kids went to school in 2002. Of course, most of those children were male, meaning very few female students had access to learning.
Luckily, thanks to the cooperative efforts of Afghan government officials, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other donors, Afghanistan has successfully rebounded from this educational drought with new schools and an improved youth literacy rate. As of 2018, more than 9 million children are attending school, nearly half of which are girls, USAID reports. The news is just as good when it comes to the country’s attendance rates in higher education. Over the course of 17 years, the rate of college-age students seeking higher degrees increased from 1% to about 10%, with women representing a third of that population. By all accounts, educational standards in Afghanistan are improving.
What’s behind this uplifting turnaround? As mentioned above, USAID — a federal agency responsible for overseeing foreign aid and humanitarian efforts — pitched in by providing job training to thousands of teachers and educational administrators. Scholarships and awareness campaigns were implemented to get more women in schools, while industry-specific courses were introduced to help older students improve their career trajectories and living conditions. Nearly 50 million textbooks were printed and provided, and almost 2,500 accelerated learning centers were built to assist students who faced severe setbacks in their educations.
Still, that doesn’t mean the work is finished. According to Human Rights Watch, 41% of Afghan schools continue to operate without stable structures, and rural children often have no way of traveling to the more densely populated areas where schools are located. To achieve educational access for all Afghan children, more work needs to be done, but for the time being, progress is welcome news.
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