On May 12, 2010, the Center for Universal Education at Brookings hosted a discussion with His Excellency Ghulam Farooq Wardak, the Minister of Education of Afghanistan. Minister Wardak highlighted current efforts to train teachers, increase school enrollment, and improve quality education in Afghanistan. In his opening remarks, the Minister offered historical context into the challenges facing the Afghan education system. Between 1979 and 2001, war and internal conflict severely disrupted overall access to education and ideological opposition excluded most girls from any educational opportunities. Since 2001, the number of students enrolled has risen from 1 to 7 million, including 2.5 million girls. The Ministry has also focused on improving educational quality through developing a new national curriculum, distributing updated textbooks, and dramatically expanding training for teachers. Despite these reforms, there are still 5 million children – over 40 percent – who remain out of school in the country.
Challenges for Education in Afghanistan
Beyond Primary School: Afghanistan currently has extremely limited educational opportunities for most children beyond primary school. Minister Wardak predicts that without adequate attention to both the quality of primary education and expanded access to post-primary learning, there will be a growing gap between rising expectations and limited opportunities. Over the next decade, primary graduation is expected to increase to 800,000 students each year but there is currently only capacity for approximately 50,000 students to move into meaningful post-primary education opportunities.