A Current Issue of Global Concern

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A Current Issue of Global Concern:
The Significance of Education for Peace and Stability in Afghanistan © Over 30 years of war and instability have ruined the infrastructure of all spheres of Afghan life. Education has probably been the sector that has sustained the most devastation in Afghanistan. Educating the Afghan populace – especially the young generation – is a critical facet toward engendering enduring peace and stability, alleviating endemic poverty, and resuscitating economic growth in the country. From this writer’s personal awareness, in Afghanistan today most schools lack proper teaching facilities and materials (apart from the usual facilities this would include current library holdings, computerized language labs, computer labs etc) .  But perhaps most important of all …in Afghanistan …there is a critical shortage of qualified teachers. Teachers with current qualifications reflective of those which would be demanded, at a minimum, in neighboring states …let alone the rest of the world. Beyond the issue of availability of adequate educational opportunity however, the educational crisis in Afghanistan is further acerbated by societal circumstances.  This writer is certain most readers will be aware of the circumstances which prevail in Afghanistan but, according to a report by Surgar (2011), Afghan parents are reluctant to send their children to school buildings which – because the populace is aware of the grim inadequacy of the schooling facilities – are strikingly empty of activity and children.  The Surgar report underpins this writer’s own research on the ground in that it reveals that the quality of Afghan education is “ low” and in most cases a striking non-existence of textbooks and of proper curricula and syllabi is evident. Another issue that has a bearing – but which has not figured prominently in discussions about the re-engineering of the Afghan educational system – relates to the socio-cultural bias that many Afghans have toward the education of females, especially in the conservative and remote areas of the country. This is another challenge that the Afghan government needs to wrestle with.  According to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund the disparity between the enrollment (at schools offering even the most basic educational facilities) of girls’ and boys’ is enormous.  In 2009 the enrolment of young Afghan girls constituted only 35% of the total primary school enrollments (UNICEF, 2009). This percentage swells in some rural provinces in the south of the country such as in Zabul Province. Due to growing instability 90 out of 100 girls are not in schools in that province. As an average only 50% of all children receive schooling in Afghanistan (IRIN, 2011). Beyond early School education …in Afghanistan today there are other significant education related challenges that need to be addressed. Among them is the desperate circumstance surrounding availability of higher education opportunities  (certificate, diploma  and degree programmes)  for those Afghans who have actually made the difficult, and sometimes perilous, journey through early school …to qualify with a High School qualification.  Part of the issue is an epidemic of despair that, for those who complete early schooling …high school … and do not have the resources to proceed further with their education, there are virtually no employment opportunities upon graduation.  This situation, obviously, only lends to the damaging environment of thought that education does not do anything to better ones lot in life. Further looming education related problems continue to surface in Afghanistan. According to the Ministry of Higher Education of Afghanistan (2010), the number of high school graduates will reach 600,000 students by 2014. These are young eager Afghans on the brink of adulthood who should be able to look to their own country for the provision of further, higher education opportunities with which to prepare themselves to compete...
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