The higher education of Afghanistan has been a challenge for the country’s government as well as its people due to several internal and external socio-economic and political factors that plague the country. Prior to the 19th century, education in Afghanistan based on the modern concepts of specialized and technical competency development models was practically non-existent. There was no scope of vocational or higher education and students could not aspire to build careers in the modern professions. However, a lot has changed since then and in recent years, the modern constitution of Afghanistan promises free-of-cost education to all the citizens up to the undergraduate level.

Political and historical determinants

Afghanistan’s tragic history of repeated invasions and conquests by foreign powers has been a huge obstacle to the development of a well-formed infrastructure of higher education in the country. Following its independence from British colonization in the 1960s, there was a short period where a sizable chunk of Afghans had formed a powerful educated class that took an active role in the country’s politics. However, the Soviet invasions and the communist coup in the country led to the eradication of an entire generation of educated class, further regressing the development of education in Afghanistan. The country did not get much relief even after this as the Taliban conquest and 30 years of continuous war left the infrastructure of primary and higher education in Afghanistan decimated.

How Afghanistan is rebuilding educational infrastructure?

With a life expectancy of 44 years and over 40 per cent of the population unemployed, things looked quite grim for the establishment of a robust system of higher education in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Ministry of Education has worked vigorously towards the encouragement of girl education since it has been assessed that education of females is the precursor to doing away with the widespread orthodoxy and backwardness of the Afghani society. Even though the unstable government (as a result of the resurgence of the Taliban) has provided for some form of basic higher education in Afghanistan, there have been several conflicts due to the lack of resources at Kabul University. Therefore, the government needs support from international partners like UNICEF and World Bank.

International support to higher education in Afghanistan

The World Bank’s Higher Education Systems Improvement Project has installed research units at Afghani public universities to revive the indulgence in education in Afghanistan. Such international partners have also helped with the lack of funds and provided much-needed textbooks and school buildings to ensure the growth of primary, secondary, vocational, and higher educations in Afghanistan. UNICEF has been working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to help map pathways to higher education in Afghanistan and how to implement them in safe learning environments. Even then the country has a long way to go and many ambitious students have been migrating to nearby countries like India to pursue their dreams in renowned institutions like Sharda University.

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