The general level of education is low. Almost
two out of three adult Afghans are illiterate. Among
women, only one in four can read and write. The school
system is drawn with major shortcomings, such as too few
educated teachers and substandard school buildings.
According to the UN agency Unesco, schooling is
formally compulsory for nine years, from seven to 15
years of age. A six-year, free-of-charge primary school
is followed by a six-year secondary education. In
practice, more than a third of children have rarely
attended school, but after the fall of the Taliban
regime in 2001, the proportion of children in school has
increased significantly. In 2017, half of the children
participated in the current age group at the extension
stage, according to Unesco.
Allcitypopulation: Offers a list of biggest cities in the state of
Afghanistan, including the capital city which hosts major colleges and
Country facts of Afghanistan, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
Especially during the Taliban violence in 1996–2001,
many children were excluded from education. Girls who
were nine years old were not allowed to go to school.
The Taliban also intervened in secret education for
girls in private homes. Many boys' schools were also
forced to close because the female teachers were
forbidden to work. In other schools, the classes could
consist of up to 200 students, when the few male
teachers were not enough, and the education was
The school is being rebuilt
After the fall of the Taliban regime, school premises
were refurbished and parents were persuaded to let the
girls go to school. In 2010, the number of pupils in
primary school had increased from one million to about
seven million, of which more than 2.5 million were
girls. But while at least half of the girls in Kabul and
Herat attended school, the proportion was not even ten
percent in some conservative provinces in the south. In
2017, 5.8 million pupils attended primary school and 2.5
million in secondary education, according to UNESCO.
Even in other respects, conditions vary widely within
the country. Hundreds of schools have been forced to
close, often following murder threats against teachers
and students, especially in the eastern and southern
parts of which the Taliban are most active. But at the
same time, new schools could be opened in similar areas
with the Taliban's quiet consent, if the local religious
leaders, parents and village elders were involved in the
children's future. Many organizations, including the
Swedish Afghanistan Committee (SAK), manage to run
hundreds of schools in precarious areas by anchoring the
business locally. According to SAK, 3.5 million children
and young people of school age are not expected to
However, among others, the UN body Unicef and the
Care International organization have argued that the
information on the number of schools and pupils to which
the authorities and some aid organizations refer is
hardly rooted in reality. The fact that a certain number
of millions of students are registered does not mean
that everyone really goes to school. A large proportion
of the children are expected to drop out of school
early, but school leaders have an interest in inflating
the numbers for the number of pupils as they form the
basis for how much government support they receive.
Communist school reform
Afghanistan's modern school system grew in the early
1900s and was primarily for the elite in Kabul.
Alongside this, the older Qur'an schools where mullahs
(prayer leaders) teach Islam and in reading and writing
have remained and are considered the basis for all
The communist regime that took power in 1978 sought
to enforce a rapid education reform. Literacy campaigns
were run for adults and the focus was not least on
reaching out to women. Marxist schooled young men were
sent as teachers to the villages, where they ended up on
a collision course with the Conservative Mulls. Out in
the country, "teachers" often became synonymous with
"atheist" or "traitor". Teachers were murdered and
schools burned down. The controversial education
campaign was one of the main reasons for the armed
resistance to the then regime (see Modern History).
The first university was founded in 1932 in Kabul.
New universities were then opened in Jalalabad in 1963
as well as in Herat, Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif between
1988 and 1991. In most provinces today there are
universities and colleges, most opened in the 2000s,
with a limited range of courses. Thousands of Afghan
students have received higher education abroad.
FACTS - EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary
28.2 percent (1993)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary
Reading and writing skills
31.7 percent (2011)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of GDP
15.7 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of the state budget
15.7 percent (2017)
French soldiers travel home
The last French combat unit, 200 infantry soldiers, leaves Afghanistan. There
are still around 1,500 Frenchmen in charge of sending home equipment and
training Afghan soldiers.
The UN punishes terrorist networks
The UN Security Council extends its sanctions against the Taliban to include
the so-called Haqqani network. The Haqqani family is held responsible for a
number of bloody attacks, including against hotels in Kabul, the US Embassy and
the ISAF headquarters.
Governors are dismissed
President Karzai dismisses five provincial governors and moves four to other
provinces as part of efforts to reduce corruption and reform political work. A
tenth governor is appointed presidential adviser.
Million revenue for the Taliban
According to a UN report, the Taliban earned about $ 400 million in 2011 on
taxation of individuals and businesses, donations and blackmail from companies
and aid organizations (see also Finance).
The Afghans take over the US prison
The US hands over the responsibility of the prison in Bagram north of Kabul
to the Afghan authorities. The surrender is part of the preparations for the US
troop court 2014.
Afghan soldiers are fired
The Ministry of Defense announces that hundreds of soldiers have been
dismissed or arrested for suspected contacts with the Taliban.
Suspicious infiltration of police
NATO temporarily suspends training of 22,000 Afghan local police and military
special forces. The reason is several deaths of NATO soldiers by uniformed
US soldiers are released from indictment
The American soldiers accused of burning a number of copies of the Qur'an and
other religious writings (see February 2012) are released from an internal
investigation of willful crime.
Parliament is kicking ministers
Expresses mistrust of the defense minister and the interior minister for
failing to put a stop to Pakistani rocket fire on Afghan territory;
Female politician is murdered
The women's rights activist and politician Hanifa Safi is killed by an
explosive charge attached to her car with a magnet. She was head of the
Department of Women's Rights in Laghman Province.
New billion promises from the outside world
Afghanistan is promised $ 16 billion in civilian support over the next four
years. In return, the donor countries at a conference in Tokyo receive promises
from the Afghan government on increased transparency in the fight against
The United States gives Afghanistan a special position
The United States gives Afghanistan the position of "important ally outside
NATO", which facilitates US arms purchases and military cooperation.
Peace Council gets new chair
Salahuddin Rabbani is appointed as new Chairman of the State Peace Council.
He is the son of the former President murdered in September 2011, as well as
former President Burhanuddin Rabbani.
American soldier kills civilians
An American soldier kills 16 Afghan civilians in their homes after leaving
their place in the middle of the night. Nine children are among the victims.
Violent protests against the United States
About 30 people are killed in anti-American demonstrations and attacks in
several cities. The protests erupt after reports that several copies of the
Qur'an have been burned as garbage on an American base. At least two American
soldiers are among the victims.