Society and norms – Literacy and Education

Viewpoints

This video shows American forces building new schools in the Paktīkā Province.

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Afghanistan has conventional day schools found primarily in urban areas. The madrasahs, however, have been the predominant educational institution in the nation. A madrasah is simply a place of study. The madrasah concept is, and has long been, the basic form of education for most Afghans, particularly in rural areas. The madrasah will often be a boarding school combining the teachings of Islam with other subjects. There are literally tens of thousands of madrasahs in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. Most do not teach extremist interpretations of Islam.  Many scholars and Afghan intellectuals have been educated via the madrasah system.

Girls School in Afghanistan

Like most infrastructure in Afghanistan, years of war and strife have taken a heavy toll on the country’s education system. Many scholars and educators were killed or fled the country during the many years of war. The Afghan government, working in conjunction with international aid agencies, is reopening schools for both males and females. However, attendance at public schools remains below 10 percent and most Afghans are illiterate. It is estimated that only 43 percent of males and 13 percent of females are literate.[6]

 

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