Afghanistan's children must have access to education: UN agency

Despite the assurance that they are "committed to the right to education of all citizens", the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan announced earlier this week that they will not allow girls to attend secondary school until further notice, IANS reported.

Responding to this development, Education Cannot Wait's (ECW) Director Yasmine Sherif said that to support a peaceful and prosperous future for all Afghans, the de facto authorities must ensure the right to education for all children and adolescents across the country. Ensuring that both girls and boys can return to school, including the resumption of adolescent girls' access to secondary education, is key for the development of the country, she said.

ECW is the UN's global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. While boys have been able to access primary and secondary school since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, girls' access to education has been limited to primary schools in most of Afghanistan's provinces, she said.

With this announcement, an entire generation of Afghan children and adolescents could be left behind. Afghanistan faces a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, with over half the population — 24.4 million people — in need of assistance. Today, an estimated eight million school-aged children need urgent support to access education.

This is a crucial moment for the de facto authorities to make good on their commitments. The time has come to fulfil the right to education for all girls and boys in the country. Knowledge is the pillar of any flourishing nation, Yasmine added. ECW has been supporting community-based education in Afghanistan since 2018, together with strategic partners in the UN system, donors and civil society, reaching children in the most challenging contexts.

The ECW-supported Multi-Year Resilience Programme focused on the most marginalised children, including a strong focus on female teachers and girls' education, with 60 per cent of all children reached being girls.