Our Key Challenges

Despite impressive achievements, many immense challenges lie ahead for the education sector. The high numbers of out-of-school children and youth, gender and rural/urban disparities, low quality of education and administrative

limitations are a few of many challenges that the Ministry of Education has yet to overcome to achieve Education for All and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2020. The details of which are as follows:

I. ACCESS

  • Approximately 42% or five million of the estimated 12 million school-aged children and youth do not have access to education;
  • Over 5000 schools are without usable buildings, boundary walls, safe drinking water or sanitation facilities;
  • Long walking distances to school and lack of safe/proper learning environments are major impediment toward female participation in schooling;
  • No female students enrolled in grades 10-12 in 200 of 412 urban and rural districts;
  • 245 out of 412 urban and rural districts do not have a single qualified female teacher;
  • 90% of qualified female teachers are located in the nine major urban centers (Kabul, Herat, Nangrahar, Mazar, Badakhshan, Takhar, Baghlan, Jozjan and Faryab);
  • 453 schools are still closed or have been damaged in the past two years, resulting in 300,000 students deprived of schooling; and, Some 11 million adults remain illiterate.


II. QUALITY
The Ministry of Education is strongly committed to accomplishing its national and international obligations by providing balanced and quality education to all school-aged children and youth. However, the quality of education is one of the main areas of concern for the government and its development partners. Quality improvement requires textbooks and learning materials, professional teachers, secure, inclusive and childfriendly learning environments, laboratories, libraries and effective management and supervision.

The Ministry has a daunting task of proactively responding to the below challenges:

  • 73% of teachers lack the minimum required qualification of grade 14 graduation and are in need of professional development;
  • Over 5,000 of Educational Institutions do not have usable buildings which has a direct impact on quality of education;
  • There is a shortage of textbooks and other teaching and learning materials as well as problems in their timely distribution;
  • Use of school buildings in multiple shifts—almost all schools operate based on a reduced instructional-schedule compared to international norms—a direct impact on the quality of education; and
  • There is a shortage of technical workshops for technical and vocational schools and labs for general education schools.


III. RELEVANCE

Relevance is considered a critical subject in education with multidimensional impacts. However, our education is lagging behind many basic characteristics of relevance. Our education needs to ensure that it is researchbased; meets the reconstruction needs and demand of our labor market;
provides education skills that increases employability; and can reduce our dependency on international experts. For instance, at the moment Technical and Vocational Schools, despite high demand, can only accommodate less than 5% of grade 9 graduates. Similarly, there is a huge imbalance between the secondary and higher education sub-sectors, e.g., 79,000 students graduated from grade 12 in 2008; however, only one fourth were absorbed in higher education institutions. With current pace there will be around 900,000 twelfth grade graduates in 2020 who will need either higher education or employment opportunities.

Our education system needs to train the new generation of professional work force who can take the political, social and economic leadership of the country without much reliance on international assistance.

IV. FUNDING
The Ministry of Education employs 67% of the civil servants in the country; however, only 15% of the national recurrent budget is allocated for education which makes it impossible to achieve the targets set in the National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) with the government resources.
Inability of the government to adequately fund the education sector results in a reliance on donor funding and low quality and access constraints.

Unpredictability of development funding, lack of long-term donor commitment and lack of harmonized approach of donors to funding are the other major challenges that this Ministry is struggling with.

V. MANAGEMENT
Several management challenges impede the education system to effectively plan and execute sound polices and programs. For instance, as a result of low staff capacity the system lacks sufficient number of trained and wellorganized directors, managers and school principals who can develop and maintain an effective decentralized service delivery mechanism. Likewise, a complicated and lengthy procurement system and lack of trained staff are other major challenges that slow down timely implementation of development projects.

Timely decision-making is hampered by the lack of an adequate information and communication system.

Similarly, lack of adequate workspace for the ministry’s main building to effectively establish its vertical and lateral linkages has weakened coordination and delivery mechanisms at national level.

Low remunerations for teachers and administrative staff of the Ministry has reduced work motivation and creativity across the country.