Since the beginning of the post-Taliban era in Afghanistan, security issues have always topped the news and analysis. It has received the highest attention and bulk of aids. The government of president Karzai has turned to a security cabinet however, it has deteriorated even more. This has overshadowed the entire government agenda for rebuilding the war-ravaged Afghanistan. Education is one of the issues that have insufficiently attracted attention and budget.
No need to say, a country's development or degradation mainly depends on how it approaches education and training needs and to what extent the country pays importance to proficient educational cadres and skilled human resource. The existing developmental gap between the first, second and third world countries are surely the result of different levels of what they have used as knowledge and skill to improve things. Education is a means by which the world community can change their destiny of life. A developed, democrat, pluralist and tolerant society needs to strengthen the basis of education, develop skills and build human resource capacity to achieve their set targets. This is a long trip that can never be covered unless the international community is working very closely to overcome the challenges.
The current gap between the first, second and third world countries is not only disastrous for underdeveloped countries but also for the developed nations. For that reason, the world's developed nations are making struggles to help poor nations get rid of the illiteracy. High quality pre-primary, primary, secondary, higher and vocational education and training remain as important as ever. But initial learning is not enough. People's skills must be constantly renewed to enable them to meet the challenges of ever-evolving technologies, increasing internationalization and demographic changes.
Nowadays, lifelong learning is the key to jobs and growth, as well as to allow everyone the chance to participate fully in society. Like other nations fighting poverty and illiteracy throughout the world, politicians at European level have recognised that education and training are essential to the development and success of today's knowledge society and economy. The European Union's strategy emphasizes countries working together and learning from each other. EU education and training policy has been given added impetus since the adoption of the Lisbon Strategy in 2000, the EU's overarching programme focusing on growth and jobs. It underlines that knowledge, and the innovation it sparks, are the EU's most valuable assets, particularly as global competition becomes more intense in all sectors.
Afghanistan, like a great deal of other nations, is sadly included in the third world countries, no matter how we define it and which aspect is taken in consideration. It is a third world country in terms of Gross National Income, Human Development indicators, Poverty, political liberties, civil societies, etc. The post-conflict Afghanistan is severely suffering from multilateral challenges including problems in the education sector.
The new era in Afghanistan has seen good positive changes but more challenges have remained unaddressed than what the government and the international community has achieved during the past seven years. Statistics suggest that adult illiteracy rate for the year 2002 for males was 49%; females, 79%. This was the highest illiteracy rate in Asia. This was because of the long running war in the country, old educational system being applied and the Taliban's radical understanding of Islamic teachings that led to denial of girls from going to school.
Under the Taliban regime, girls were not allowed to have education at all levels. But the newly established government in the country and the international community committed to fight poverty, illiteracy and terrorism herein made all-out efforts to rapidly improve the situation and help all boys and girls being enrolled at schools. With educational policy now in place in the first National Education Strategic Plan for Afghanistan, the country looks set to move further towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) now set at 2020. However, as the MDG Vision 2020 for Afghanistan, states the "country has a long way to go to meet the minimum set of goals and targets that it has set for itself. Even in comparison to other conflict-affected and landlocked countries, Afghanistan ranks low".
Acknowledging the fact that the basis of human capacity developments, modern values promotion and a constant rule of law are dependent on accessibility to and the level of education development in a country, the works done in Afghanistan for rebuilding the basis of primary and higher education since the Taliban's ouster from power in late 2001 seem relatively more tangible than other areas of the people's needs. But it never indicates that no more is required from the government and the international community or all parts of the country have experienced the same level of improvement in this sector. There are villages across the country, which are deprived of the least facilities to educate their children and bring a tiny change in their lives in terms of education and schooling. A strategic blunder by education policy makers at the beginning came from the currently rampant project-like view of this big national subject.
It deserved to receive more attention, budget and planning than is seen today. Demographic criterion was turned into geographic benchmarks and so the more populated parts of the country was neglected while making allocations and developing plans. However, despite many challenges and mistakes in all sectors, a comparison between areas of government operations show that there are some particular parts in which the government, backed by its international allies, have had better performances: like the developments made in telecommunications, health and education sectors. Maintaining the truth that the challenges ahead of the government are more than what has been achieved, it should be noticed that a collapsed economic infrastructure will not further allow to enjoy developments and the works done in this sector during the past years are somewhat pleasing. However, there are areas that could be done better.
Putting emphasis on Education role in rebuilding and strengthening the democratic and modern values, the government of Afghanistan and international community need to lay the foundation of a developed, modern and stable Afghanistan through promoting new method of teaching and learning so that the emerging generation of the country is fairly acquainted with, citizenship rights and responsibilities, democracy and human modern values and wishes to embark on promising measures to save the country but not violence and terror. The government has promised that no children will be out of school in the end of the ANDS deadline, the year 2020.
The challenges lying ahead on the way to achieve this goal is too difficult to address, but the international community's unprecedented commitment and help to the development in Afghanistan is keeping the ray of hope brighter. The continuance of the international community's aids to carry on development projects in Afghanistan and a better performance of the government of Afghanistan can surely help to overcome the existing challenges. The way to meet the objectives is hard to go but a firm determination can ease this long journey.