Today, September 8, 2011 is the International Literacy Day. It was proclaimed as International Day of Literacy by UNESCO on November 17, 1965 with the aim to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. In the meanwhile, the period from 2003–2013 has been announced as the United Nations Literacy Decade. Just two more years remain. Throughout this period, Afghanistan has taken some great strides in the field of education and literacy campaigns across the country.
There have been literacy courses going on in the country. Literacy benefits both individuals and communities because the individuals gain self-esteem and get equipped with new important skills, which can help them contribute to the community development.
Literacy brings a greater sense of personal dignity and makes individuals active subjects in a community or society. Literate people are equipped with additional skills to solve problems emerging in their lives. The reason for Afghan people being marginal and facing many problems is the bitter fact that there is a very high rate of illiteracy in the country and people are not only incapable to contribute to the solution to the problems but also cause problems.
Due to years of conflict and war, unfortunately illiteracy and ignorance have turned into the hallmark of our society, brining with themselves violent and other ills. Taliban's period was a dark period for literacy and education.
Afghan people, particularly women, were deprived of their basic human rights such as education. Thanks to the intervention of international community, the anti-education regime of Taliban is no longer in power and Afghan people have been able to access education but there still exist formidable challenges to the situation of literacy, education and knowledge in Afghanistan.
According to the Ministry of Education, around 500 schools remain closed and about 4 million Afghan children remain deprived of education due to the very threat posed by the insurgent Taliban militants that have been burning schools and killing teachers and schoolchildren over the last ten years.
Also, old tradition, which makes another hallmark of our society, is another obstacle in the way of literacy and education. In order for Afghanistan to become literate and able to solve its problems there is a need for break with Taliban-like thinking and tradition. Unfortunately, the approach of Afghan authorities is yet to change towards education and knowledge.