2.10.5. Education of children and girls in particular

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This country guidance is currently under review. In view of the recent significant changes, notably the Taliban takeover, assessments within this document may no longer be valid. When examining the international protection needs of applicants from Afghanistan, please consider the most up-to-date country of origin information available.

COMMON ANALYSIS
Last updated: December 2020

COI summary

Attending formal education, either in public schools, private schools, or madrasas, is compulsory in Afghanistan until the 9th grade. However, reportedly around 3.7 million children were out of school across Afghanistan in 2018 and 60 % of them were girls. Most of the out-of-school children lived in rural areas, while the attendance rates, particularly for girls, were considerably higher in urban areas. Generally, there were more schools for boys than for girls in Afghanistan, with access of girls to a school notably higher in regions controlled by the government than in regions under the control of AGEs [Key socio-economic indicators 2020, 2.5.].

Groups of marginalised children who were disproportionately excluded from and deprived of access to school comprised children with disabilities (including psychosocial issues), children from ethnic, linguistic, and religious minority groups, children living in urban slums and on the street, children whose families migrate seasonally for work, and refugee and IDP children. Engagement in child labour was an additional factor for a considerable drop in school performance [Key socio-economic indicators 2020, 2.5.].

Other challenges faced by the Afghan educational system include insecurity, shortages and damages of school buildings, shortage of textbooks and teaching materials and resources, shortage of teachers (especially female teachers), the alleged appointment of teachers on the basis of cronyism and bribery, lack of inclusive facilities at schools, cultural norms which deprioritise education for girls, as well as poverty, rural access issues, and long travel distances to schools for many children. The 2019 presidential election period revealed a peak in targeting school facilities due to the use of government-owned schools as polling centres and caused long-term impact on the access to education. Schools have also been used for military purposes by the government and pro-government forces [Key socio-economic indicators 2020, 2.5.1; COI query on education sector; Security situation 2020, 1.4.5].

Deliberate attacks on schools and education personnel and students by AGEs were also reported. Attacks against girls’ schools carried out by both ISKP and the Taliban have been documented. The Taliban regularly issue statements claiming to be in support of education and proclaiming an absolute ban on attacks on schools. It was observed that such attacks were no longer systematic but continued to take place. UNAMA indicated that throughout 2019, the Taliban carried out numerous attacks that severely affected educational institutions (including damages to 28 schools) and educational personnel. The current objective of insurgents appears not to be school closures, but rather gaining control over them through the choice of curriculum, the recruitment of teachers, and regular inspections [COI query on education sector; Conflict targeting, 1.2.4.3; see also the profile 2.7 Educational personnel].

It was indicated that the Taliban’s position had changed from a complete opposition towards government schools to an oversight of education services in some provinces, mainly due to local pressure. Generally, what happens with schools is considered to vary depending on the local commander and the population. The behaviour of the Taliban towards girls’ education also appears contradictory. Although the Taliban officially indicated that they would not oppose girls’ education anymore, deliberate restriction on the access of women and girls to education and closure of girls’ schools continued to occur, especially concerning girls beyond sixth grade (12 years) in areas under their control. Very few Taliban actually allow girls to attend schools after their puberty, and others do not allow girls’ schools at all [COI query on education sector].

In general, in the cities of Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif, educational facilities are present and access to schools is better. In the cities, lack of financial resources or lack of documentation (for IDPs and returnees), seem to be the major impediments to a child’s education [Key socio-economic indicators 2020, 2.5.1; COI query on education sector].

Risk analysis

The general deficiencies in the educational system, and the limited opportunities for education cannot as such be considered persecution, as they are not the result of a third party’s deliberate actions.[24] However, in the case of deliberate restrictions on access to education, in particular for girls, this could amount to persecution.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Where well-founded fear of persecution is substantiated, the individual circumstances of the child should be taken into account to determine whether or not a nexus to a reason for persecution can be substantiated. For example, a link could be established to (imputed) political opinion and/or religion in the case of girls attending school in a Taliban-controlled area.


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[24] CJEU, M’Bodj, paras. 35-36. [back to text]
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