Lessons in terror: attacks on education in Afghanistan

Lessons in terror: attacks on education in Afghanistan

Recommendations for improving education in Afghanistan

This report examines the impact of insecurity on education in Afghanistan, especially on girls’ education. It concentrates on armed attacks on the education system in the south and southeast of the country, where resurgent opposition forces, local warlords, and increasingly powerful criminal groups have committed abuses aimed at terrorising the civilian population and contesting the authority of the central government and its foreign supporters. It also provides a number of recommendations.

In focusing on the nexus between insecurity and access to education, this document seeks to establish new benchmarks for assessing the performance of Afghan and international security forces and measuring progress on the security front. It argues that the benchmarks most often used at present - numbers of Afghan troops trained and international troops deployed, or the number of armed opponents killed - are important, but they do not accurately assess the security situation. What is more important is how much these and related efforts improve the day-to-day security of the Afghan people. The document argues for access to education be made one key benchmark, for the following reasons:

  • on a political level, because teachers and schools are typically the most basic level of government and the most common point of interaction (in many villages the only point of contact) between ordinary Afghans and their government
  • on a practical level, because this benchmark lends itself to diagnostic, nationally comparable data analysis (for instance, the number of operational schools, the number of students, the enrollment of girls) focused on outcomes instead of the number of troops or vague references to providing security
  • on a policy level, because providing education to a new generation of Afghans is essential to the country’s long-term development.
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