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Even though Afghanistan's policy of free education was compulsory for children aged 7 to 13, only 22 percent of the country's "school-aged" children were actually attending schools in 1996. In 1997 UNESCO estimated that 50.8 percent of males and 80.6 percent of females over the age of 15 were illiterate.

The effects of war upon a society are unimaginable to those who have not lived through one. The fact that any educational training took place in Afghanistan during the 1980s and 1990s is testament to the courage and indomitable human spirit of the families and teachers of the provincial directorates and humanitarian relief agencies who were courageous enough to continue teaching and learning. When political, economic, and social stability are returned to Afghanistan—no matter the leadership directing the country—it will take the efforts of all Afghans, men and women, girls and boys, for generations to come, to raise the country out of illiteracy and into a higher standard of living.


The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from http://www.cia.gov/.

Giustozzi, Antonio. War, Politics, and Society in Afghanistan 1978-1992. London: Hurst & Company, 2000.

Matinuddin, Kamal. The Taliban Phenomenon: Afghanistan 1994-1997. Pakistan: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Nyrop, Richard F., and Donald M. Seekins, eds. Afghanistan: A Country Study. The American University, 1986.

Population Reference Bureau. "World Population Data Sheet." Washington, DC, 2000.

United Nations Children's Fund. The Progress of Nations 2000, New York: Division of Communication, Division of Evaluation, Policy and Planning, 2000.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. World Education Report 2000: The Right to Education (Towards education for all throughout life). New York: UNESCO Publishing, 2000.

World Education Forum. The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports, Afghanistan. New York: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, 2000.

—Sandra J. Callaghan

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceAfghanistan - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Administration, Finance, Educational Research - SECONDARY EDUCATION, HIGHER EDUCATION