Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Wednesday, December 30, 1998 Published at 12:37 GMT

World: South Asia

Afghan schools in 'state of collapse'

The Taleban believe women and girls should remain at home

By the BBC's Pam O' Toole

The United Nations' Children's Fund, Unicef, has warned that 20 years of continuous conflict in Afghanistan have brought that country's school system to a virtual state of collapse.

In a statement issued in New York, the organisation said that almost nine out of 10 girls and almost two out of three boys were not enrolled at school. Meanwhile the adult literacy rate was 47% for men and only 15% for women.

Unicef concludes that Afghanistan's school system is in a virtual state of collapse and that there is little sign of any improvement.

The organisation's Executive Director, Carol Bellamy, said an existing gender gap in education had been further exacerbated by Taleban edicts banning girls from attending formal schools and female teachers from working.

Rights contravened

Such moves, she said, contravened international conventions on women and childrens' rights.

Ms Bellamy said the large majority of Afghan children, especially girls, were deprived of educational opportunities. This was all the more tragic considering the high demand for education among Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran.

Ms Bellamy maintained there was no way that Afghanistan could meet the multiple challenges of the 21st century unless it began to uphold the right of all its citizens to basic education.

Since 1995, when the Taleban took over parts of western Afghanistan and began closing down girls' schools, Unicef has withdrawn its support from the formal school system.

It continues to work with the education authorities in some of the few areas not controlled by the Taleban.

In May, the United Nations and the Taleban signed a memorandum of understanding stating that both men and women have the right to education. Carol Bellamy pointed out that these words have yet to be put into practice.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

09 Dec 98 | South Asia
UN warns Taleban

08 Dec 98 | South Asia
Taleban urged to respect human rights

06 Dec 98 | Asia-Pacific
Donors debate Afghan aid

10 Nov 98 | South Asia
Taleban lets UN visit Afghan interior

17 Jun 98 | Education
Taleban close private girls' schools

Internet Links

United Nations

International Committee for the Red Cross

Taleban Islamic Movement of Afghanistan

European Commission

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Sharif: I'm innocent

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

From Sport
Saqlain stars in Aussie collapse

Pakistan fears Afghan exodus

Hindu-Buddhist conference in Nepal

Afghan clerics issue bin Laden fatwa

Culture awards at Asian festival

Gandhi pleads for husband's killer

UN condemns Afghan bombing

Gandhi prize for Bangladeshi