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PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE

With resolution of internal strife no where in sight and with imposition of UN sanctions, it would be highly optimistic to think that the country will move any faster towards the attainment of EFA goals than it did during the decade. The isolation of the country from the outside world will increase economic hardships and resource availability.

In this scenario, the one factor which gives hope for the future is the growing awareness of the need for modern education coupled with strong community support for education. In spite of this commitment, basic educational needs of children, particularly those of girls, will only be met with increased assistance from International NGOs and Aid Agencies.

The emergence of home-schools to cope with the security of girls is a significant development. These institutions can play their due role in furthering the cause of Education for All. These institutions can prove to be cost effective and need to be strengthened in future.

Once the war of attrition is over and a consensus government is in place a massive reconstruction and rehabilitation plan will have to be drawn up. With all sectors of the economy to be revived and revived urgently, what priority is assigned to education will depend on the vision of their leaders, the political will and the willingness of the people to make sacrifices for the future.

END OF DECADE EDUCATION SCENARIO

  • Thousands of schools buildings stand demolished.
  • A large number of schools have no teaching-learning resource.
  • All girls’ schools in most of the Provinces have been closed down.
  • By and large, very few children have textbooks or other supplies.
  • Schools have no registers to maintain record of attendance or student performance.
  • Most of the teachers get paid only occasionally.
  • Teachers have neither training nor professional assistance to be effective teachers.
  • A large number of trained and experienced educational managers and administrators have either left the country or have been replaced.

The stake holders should begin to contemplate how best to prepare for the cessation of hostilities. It has become apparent that there is a risk of the national education resources being so depleted that the expertise to begin rebuilding the educational infrastructure may not have a critical mass to allow reconstruction. This was identified as a real possibility already for the early childhood sector, and some correspondents believe it may already be the case for other sectors such as teacher education.

The assumptions underpinning the EFA 2000 strategy seem to include the existence of a central government, that has an education ministry to implement a set of plans that are in some way consistent with the EFA 2000 goals. A further assumption is that the central authority has the ability and desire to collect a data set (EMIS) that can be used to monitor progress towards the EFA 2000 goals. Neither of these assumptions would appear to hold in the case of Afghanistan. As a consequence of this, how are areas of need identified and provided with suitable support. Is there a need to identify strategies to support ‘grass root’ initiatives?

Rugh in Education for Afghanistan (1998) canvassed a range of alternative approaches to developing education. These are extremely interesting and consistent with an approach that may be seen to challenge the assumptions underpinning the EFA 2000 program. A way forward may be to link these strategies to a potential formal Afghanistan system. By this it is implied that we should identify what is needed "nation wide" and ask how can these small scale projects have the potential to be adapted when the time comes to develop a sustainable education system. Fundamental to this focus is the issue: To what extent can disparate assistance agencies support/replace ministerial responsibility?

If this argument is to be pursued it will require the NGOs to play a much more important role than they are now playing. They will need to fill the leadership vacuum created by the lack of effective government.

The call for more money is a constant and understandable call in the face of the scale of the calamity facing Afghanistan education. We could ask, what is the ‘real’ effect of even significant increases in funding if it is to be spent in ways similar to current programs? There is a clear need to shift the focus of expenditure from ‘band aid’ operations to preparing for the future, by building a critical mass of expertise in a number of well focused sectors to facilitate development when peace finally arrives.

This section is an attempt to canvas a range of issues that will be subject to further development as Phase 2 of this project is developed.

A program needs to be developed that involves three major initiatives:

(a) Making co-ordinatoin mechanism for the activities of the NGOs more effective.

(b) Identification of a clear set of objectives that are achievable in the short term and are associated with building ‘lighthouse’ initiatives that have the ability to be implemented broadly as reconstruction commences. Such objectives will be associated with using and maintaining the expertise that currently exists. The initiatives may reflect many of the current projects, but be available to all sections of the aid community for implementation.

In the development of objectives a suitable time frame should be identified that reflects on the reality of the Afghan environment. The objectives would be classified into two major categories. The first is the ‘quantity’ category associated with the delivery of appropriate educational services to as wide a cross section as possible. These matters have been extensively canvassed in the Rugh paper (1998).

(c) Finally, and most importantly, some form of leadership needs to be identified that has the complex range of skills necessary to see a suitable set of objectives and being able to identify a way of moving towards their achievement.

These three objectives should be seen as preconditions for significant progress to be made. The following recommendations are made to facilitate realization of these objectives:

Proposal 1 The present set up of NGO co-ordination has undergone thematic change, both in terms of membership and ideology. The Executive Board of the coordinating body should include heads of NGOs who are capable of and willing to carry out meaningful need assessments and subsequent planning to keep in line with changing needs and roles as per situation.

Proposal 2 The Executive Board of the coordinating mechanism should prioritize the short-term and long term objectives and should assign a specific development task in a specialized field of endeavour to each NGO, such as curriculum, assessment, or teacher training.

Proposal 3 The Executive Board should aim at delivery of educational services to all provinces in an efficient and effective manner. The further development of suitable indicators for these functions will be an ongoing challenge.

Proposal 4 To ensure cost-effectiveness, the Executive Board may consider measures to encourage NGOs with a small component of school education spread over different provinces to evolve, on voluntary basis, a consortia of NGOs. This would minimize overhead and administrative costs and would enable more effective delivery of educational services.

Proposal 5 Efforts should be made to obtain funding commitments for longer periods of time (say 3 years) to facilitate effective planning.

Proposal 6 The Executive Board should build upon and develop a range of alternative strategies already begun (eg home schooling) and suggested by Rugh. However, these should be well documented, adequately evaluated and expertise in their wider implementation developed. They should be an available technology rather than a project.

Proposal 7 Specialist units be established within NGOs to provide services to the whole sector. Such units might cover:

Curriculum development

Textbook development

Assessment

Resource development

Teacher development

Education Management Information System (EMIS), etc.

The focus would be on providing quality services and in helping to preserve an infrastructure of Afghan expertise.

INone of the above can be achieved without exemplary leadership. Just how this can be provided in the interim period before stable government is in place is the most problematic issue of all.

REFERENCES

Gilani, Ijaz S (Ed). The Future of Afghanistan. Islamabad: Institute of Policy Studies,1989.

Helsinki Watch. Tears, Blood and Cries – Human Rights in Afghanistan since the Invasion 1979-84. New York: December 1984.

ROYAL AFGHAN MINISTRY OF EDUCATION. Education in Afghanistan During the last Half-Century. Munich: Afghan Cultural Board.

Magnus, Ralph H. and Eden Naby, Afghanistan: Mullah, Marx and Mujahid. Harper

-Collins Publishers India Pvt. Ltd, 1998.

Rugh, A. B. Education for Afghanistan UNICEF. 1998.

Matinuddin, Kamal. The Taliban Phenomenon: Afghanistan 1994-1997. Karachi:Oxford University Press, 1999.

Population Reference Bureau. 1999 World Population Data Sheet. Washington D.C.

Turner, Barry (Ed.). The Statesman’s Yearbook : The Politics, Cultures and Economies of the World 2000. Macmillan

UN. Statistical Yearbook for Asia and Pacific .1992-98.

UNICEF. Mid-Decade Review of Progress Toward Education for All in Afghanistan.July 1995.

UNICEF. Education for Afghans: A Strategy Paper. July, 1998.

UNDP and UNESCO. Education Sector Review for Afghanistan. April, 1991.

University of Nebraska at Omaha/ESSP. The Status of Education in Afghanistan.June 1994

GLOSSARY AND ABBREVIATIONS

ACBAR=Agency Co-ordination Body for Afghan Relief

AGENCY SCHOOLS=Primary, home-based, or non-formal centres established and funded by foreign NGOs and aid-agencies in Afghanistan.

AREAType of settlements: Urban or rural classification of.Settlements.

DIRECTORATE=Education Office charged with the responsibility of providing educational services in the district.

DROPOUTS=chool students who leave school before completing education/course provided by the school. More specifically students who discontinue attendance without obtaining transfer document from the school.

GER=Gross enrolment ratio. Children enrolled in schools as percentage of children in the prescribed age-group.

LYCEE=(a) Educational institution providing education for the last three years of the 6+3+3 educational system in Afghanistan.

(b) Graduates of lycee.

MUJAHIDEEN=Those fighting for the cause of Islam.

MUTAWASETA(a) Educational institution providing education for the middle three years of the 6+3+3 educational system.

(b) Graduates of these schools.

NER=Net enrolment ratio. Children within the prescribed age limit enrolled in schools as percentage of the total number of children in that age-group.

OUT-OF-SCHOOL=Any individual of prescribed school-going age not in

YOUTHschool.=The individual might or might not have attended school before.

PRE-SCHOOL=Nursery, day care, play group or similar establishments for children of less than compulsory school age;. for children under 7 years in case of Afghanistan.

PRIMARY SCOOLS=First-level schools providing 6 years of basic education to children of 7 to 12 years of age (in Afghanistan).

PUPIL-TEACHER RATIO Average number of students taught by a teacher in a class. The ratio is obtained by dividing total number of

children by the total number of teachers.

PURDAH=Veil worn by Muslim women.

REPETITION RATE=Percentage of students in a grade who are attending for a second time either because they failed the annual examination or could not complete the grade due to illness or some other reason.

RURAL=All areas other than those designated as urban.

SHARI’A=The Muslim code of religious law.

SURVIVAL RATE=Percentage of students admitted in grade one who complete grade six in Afghanistan.

TALIBAN=Students of religious schools

UNO=University of Nebraska at Omaha.

URBAN=Provincial headquarters and centres of districts are designated as urban in Afghanistan irrespective of level of urbanisation.

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