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Afghanistan Education Facts


The general level of education is low. Almost two out of three adult Afghans are illiterate. Among women, only one in four can read and write. The school system is drawn with major shortcomings, such as too few educated teachers and substandard school buildings.

According to the UN agency Unesco, schooling is formally compulsory for nine years, from seven to 15 years of age. A six-year, free-of-charge primary school is followed by a six-year secondary education. In practice, more than a third of children have rarely attended school, but after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, the proportion of children in school has increased significantly. In 2017, half of the children participated in the current age group at the extension stage, according to Unesco.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Afghanistan, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.

Especially during the Taliban violence in 1996–2001, many children were excluded from education. Girls who were nine years old were not allowed to go to school. The Taliban also intervened in secret education for girls in private homes. Many boys’ schools were also forced to close because the female teachers were forbidden to work. In other schools, the classes could consist of up to 200 students, when the few male teachers were not enough, and the education was therefore inferior.

  • Searchforpublicschools: Offers schooling information of Afghanistan in each level – compulsory, technical and higher education programs.

The school is being rebuilt

After the fall of the Taliban regime, school premises were refurbished and parents were persuaded to let the girls go to school. In 2010, the number of pupils in primary school had increased from one million to about seven million, of which more than 2.5 million were girls. But while at least half of the girls in Kabul and Herat attended school, the proportion was not even ten percent in some conservative provinces in the south. In 2017, 5.8 million pupils attended primary school and 2.5 million in secondary education, according to UNESCO.

Even in other respects, conditions vary widely within the country. Hundreds of schools have been forced to close, often following murder threats against teachers and students, especially in the eastern and southern parts of which the Taliban are most active. But at the same time, new schools could be opened in similar areas with the Taliban’s quiet consent, if the local religious leaders, parents and village elders were involved in the children’s future. Many organizations, including the Swedish Afghanistan Committee (SAK), manage to run hundreds of schools in precarious areas by anchoring the business locally. According to SAK, 3.5 million children and young people of school age are not expected to attend school.

However, among others, the UN body Unicef ​​and the Care International organization have argued that the information on the number of schools and pupils to which the authorities and some aid organizations refer is hardly rooted in reality. The fact that a certain number of millions of students are registered does not mean that everyone really goes to school. A large proportion of the children are expected to drop out of school early, but school leaders have an interest in inflating the numbers for the number of pupils as they form the basis for how much government support they receive.

Communist school reform

Afghanistan’s modern school system grew in the early 1900s and was primarily for the elite in Kabul. Alongside this, the older Qur’an schools where mullahs (prayer leaders) teach Islam and in reading and writing have remained and are considered the basis for all education.

The communist regime that took power in 1978 sought to enforce a rapid education reform. Literacy campaigns were run for adults and the focus was not least on reaching out to women. Marxist schooled young men were sent as teachers to the villages, where they ended up on a collision course with the Conservative Mulls. Out in the country, “teachers” often became synonymous with “atheist” or “traitor”. Teachers were murdered and schools burned down. The controversial education campaign was one of the main reasons for the armed resistance to the then regime (see Modern History).

The first university was founded in 1932 in Kabul. New universities were then opened in Jalalabad in 1963 as well as in Herat, Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif between 1988 and 1991. In most provinces today there are universities and colleges, most opened in the 2000s, with a limited range of courses. Thousands of Afghan students have received higher education abroad.


Proportion of children starting primary school

28.2 percent (1993)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

44 (2017)

Reading and writing skills

31.7 percent (2011)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

15.7 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

15.7 percent (2017)



French soldiers travel home

The last French combat unit, 200 infantry soldiers, leaves Afghanistan. There are still around 1,500 Frenchmen in charge of sending home equipment and training Afghan soldiers.


The UN punishes terrorist networks

The UN Security Council extends its sanctions against the Taliban to include the so-called Haqqani network. The Haqqani family is held responsible for a number of bloody attacks, including against hotels in Kabul, the US Embassy and the ISAF headquarters.


Governors are dismissed

President Karzai dismisses five provincial governors and moves four to other provinces as part of efforts to reduce corruption and reform political work. A tenth governor is appointed presidential adviser.

Million revenue for the Taliban

According to a UN report, the Taliban earned about $ 400 million in 2011 on taxation of individuals and businesses, donations and blackmail from companies and aid organizations (see also Finance).

The Afghans take over the US prison

The US hands over the responsibility of the prison in Bagram north of Kabul to the Afghan authorities. The surrender is part of the preparations for the US troop court 2014.

Afghan soldiers are fired

The Ministry of Defense announces that hundreds of soldiers have been dismissed or arrested for suspected contacts with the Taliban.

Suspicious infiltration of police

NATO temporarily suspends training of 22,000 Afghan local police and military special forces. The reason is several deaths of NATO soldiers by uniformed Afghan personnel.


US soldiers are released from indictment

The American soldiers accused of burning a number of copies of the Qur’an and other religious writings (see February 2012) are released from an internal investigation of willful crime.

Parliament is kicking ministers

Expresses mistrust of the defense minister and the interior minister for failing to put a stop to Pakistani rocket fire on Afghan territory;


Female politician is murdered

The women’s rights activist and politician Hanifa Safi is killed by an explosive charge attached to her car with a magnet. She was head of the Department of Women’s Rights in Laghman Province.

New billion promises from the outside world

Afghanistan is promised $ 16 billion in civilian support over the next four years. In return, the donor countries at a conference in Tokyo receive promises from the Afghan government on increased transparency in the fight against corruption.

The United States gives Afghanistan a special position

The United States gives Afghanistan the position of “important ally outside NATO”, which facilitates US arms purchases and military cooperation.


Peace Council gets new chair

Salahuddin Rabbani is appointed as new Chairman of the State Peace Council. He is the son of the former President murdered in September 2011, as well as former President Burhanuddin Rabbani.


American soldier kills civilians

An American soldier kills 16 Afghan civilians in their homes after leaving their place in the middle of the night. Nine children are among the victims.


Violent protests against the United States

About 30 people are killed in anti-American demonstrations and attacks in several cities. The protests erupt after reports that several copies of the Qur’an have been burned as garbage on an American base. At least two American soldiers are among the victims.

Afghanistan Best Colleges and Universities