One in three Afghan children will not get to school this year

Dima Suchin
By Dima Suchin
March 23, 2017World News

One in three Afghan children will not attend school this year.

That is 3.5 million children who will not show up when the new term starts on Thursday, March 23.

Some children have to go out to work instead of going to school.

“I come early in the morning and collect paper to recycle until the evening,” said 12-year-old Sayed Agha. “I have to work to earn money and feed my mother and father, that’s why I can’t go to school.” The $4–$5 he earns each day picking recyclables out of the trash supports his family.

Some don’t attend because the schools have been damaged or destroyed.

“Our main problem is that our school has been damaged, we don’t have proper classes and a sports ground here. We don’t have chairs and desks as well as drinking water,” explained 10-year-old Shamsia.

Many schools hold classes in tents, with students sitting on the ground.

Still, neither poverty nor lack of facilities is the biggest problem, according to teacher Sharifullah Sharif.

Most children are kept home by their parents who fear losing them to kidnapping or sectarian violence.

“The biggest challenge is insecurity in the country. People dare not send their children to school. They are afraid that their children will get kidnapped,” said the schoolteacher.

USAID has spent about $868 million on Afghan education programs. Unfortunately a lot of the money has been misspent or embezzled.

Almost half a million school-age refugee children will return to Afghanistan from Pakistan this year, placing further burdens on resources.

Attendance in Afghan schools has increased steadily starting in 2001, when the Taliban was ousted by U.S. forces. At that time only 1 million children went to school.

When 7 million children showed up for classes in 2016, it was hailed as a major milestone in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.


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