Afghanistan Table of Contents
Numbers do not tell the full story. The concept that curriculum should be designed so as to enable students to function fully in their own worlds was never understood. For the majority of village children the knowledge they gained at school had scant relevance to their lives and provided little of benefit to compensate for time spent in school. For boys, meaningful learning experiences took place in the fields with their fathers; for girls, at home with mothers, aunts and grandmothers. Rural Afghans for the most part consequently viewed formal education with profound indifference before the war. In addition, since there were are no reading materials to sustain interest, a large percentage of those who dropped out of the system lapsed quickly into illiteracy. Even instruction in reading and writing was weak, causing a disturbing lack of language skills among those pursuing higher studies.
With the advent of invasion and war, many residing in communities outside the control of the Kabul government or in refugees settlements came to view secular education as an alien Western imposition contradicting Islamic values; the road along which communism was brought to Afghanistan; an instrument of Sovietization. This attitude mellowed over the years as many refugees observed the benefits of education, but the curricula developed for refugee children was highly politicized and filled with war messages. Attempts by NGOs to include subjects pertaining to practical life skills, basic health, simple agriculture, environment and cultural awareness were met with indifference by the authorities. The war messages have been discarded but little else has changed. There is still no agreement on curricula despite two years of concerted efforts by the NGOs to arrive at a consensus with local authorities. As a result, several systems are employed.
Data as of 1997