Number of students in Afghanistan increases by 700 percent over seven years: education minister (INTERVIEW)
Azerbaijan, Baku, March 16 / Trend , D.Ibrahimova/
Afghan Education Minister Faruk Wardak's exclusive interview with Trend Persian Desk.
Question: How do you appreciate the education level in Afghanistan? What steps the Government plans to take to reduce the level of illiteracy?
Answer: Over the past seven years, the access to education has been increased. The number of students has increased by 700 percent. Currently, 6 million pupils receive education in the country. There are 11,000 schools, out of which 7,600 were opened in 2002. The number of teachers has increased by eight times. There are also 511 Muslim schools, where 106,000 students receive the Muslim education. Thirty-eight teacher training colleges offer vocational education as well as conducting training for 33,000 students, 41 percent of whom are girls from 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Nearly 1,600 qualified teachers working in districts to improve the knowledge and skills of teachers and the quality of teaching in secondary schools. A new curriculum for primary schools has been designed. In 2008, about 62 million textbooks for all classes were issued. Thirty-nine million books were distributed to 34 provinces. Around 4,500 school buildings were reconstructed and 900 schools being built.
Despite the progress achieved in education, five million children in the ages of 7 to 18 (46 per cent of pupils) have no access to education.
The Afghanistan Ministry of Education is currently developed and implemented a five-year strategic plan to facilitate access and improve the quality of education.
Plan's key objectives are registration of 75 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls in primary schools before 2010, number of students in general education institutions must reach seven million people before 2010, number of school will be reached 13,380 and every student will be able to get the full set of textbooks. In addition, teacher training centers for 140,000 teachers will be opened in 364 districts of the country.
Q: How do you appreciate the present education level among girls? How Afghanistan's traditions impact on their education? How radical movements, such as Taliban impact on girls' education in schools?
A: Presently, over 2 million girls go to schools and this makes up 36 percent of pupils compared to zero percent seven years ago when girls were forbidden to get education. Roughly 29 percent of teachers are women. The main reasons that few girls receive education include insufficient number of women-teachers at schools, inconvenient location of schools, lack of security in schools, bad sanitary conditions, cultural barriers, such as early marriage, poverty and ban for girls' education in the past.
Lack of security negatively impacts education and its quality. Roughly 650 schools were closed or burned over two last years. As a result, 400,000 pupils lost their opportunity to continue education. Pupils and teachers fear to go to school because of rebels in unsafe regions. Rebels splashed out acid to girls' faces going to schools in Kandagar town.
Q: How do you assess adult literacy level? Are there projects to open schools for them?
A: The attendance of courses aimed to eliminate illiteracy has increased 11 times since 2002. There are about 250,000 students. Women account for 82 percent. They have been enrolled at 78 schools and 10,500 courses all over the country. New grammar book will be released soon.
At the moment, over 18 million people aged more than seven years are illiterate.
Education plans call for increasing literacy 50 percent, ensuring education of 60 percent of women, organizing training for 17,000 teachers and 3,500 mullahs, opening of 398 education centers in urban and rural areas and around 10,000 education courses.
Evening schools operate in several regions and offer education to those who work and study at the same time.
Q: What role does the world community play to reduce illiteracy in Afghanistan?
A: The World Bank, Japan, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, India, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and many countries provide material and technical aid and scholarships.
UNICEF, UNESCO, Japan International Cooperation Agency, GTZ and others supported policy, helped to form programs and shared experience.
Non-governmental organizations and partners help to ensure education in regions with difficulties, render education materials, organize training for teachers and build schools.
Q: How can you assess literacy level of civil servants? The 2007 May report said over 80 percent of policemen can not even read.
A: The government has two kinds of servants: officials and support service. The minimum criteria for officials are 12-year education. There are no minimum criteria for the support service. Chiefs must take measures to educate the staff.
The Education Ministry renders support through designing training programs. The designing of programs for police have been accelerated.
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