The nations that have gotten strong hold of education in the process of their evolution have been able to achieve remarkable gains. It has been through proper development in the education sector and education system that such countries are standing much apart from others with well-being and dignity kneeling before them submissively. Through their modern education system they have not only served humanity by opening new vistas of knowledge but have also facilitated their people by bringing comfort and facilities on their door steps. Apart from that, they are on the driving seat regarding the international socio-political scenario, while the countries that lack proper emphasis on education are left much behind in almost all the fields of life.
Our country Afghanistan is one of the countries where proper attention has not been paid to education sector. One of the basic reasons has been the continuous instability overwhelming the society. The wars and conflicts - national, regional and international – that have been using Afghan land as their theater have made the development in social and educational fields suffocate to a large extent. Starting from Soviet invasion in 1979, one can count myriads of tussles and disturbances hampering the establishment of satisfactory education system. The problems, more basic in nature, have been the focal point of people's concentration rather than the education system.
Prior to Soviet invasion, the most notable contribution for the growth of education was made my King Zahir Shah (1933-73). He made primary school available to almost half of the children of the country who were under the age of 12. He also made certain contribution regarding the improvement of secondary education and Kabul University. The second phase of educational development started with the government of People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, which designedmany education policies in order to disseminate modern education among the people. Education was emphasized for both male and female. It was the first occasion when female education was given considerable importance. According to sources, in 1988, women comprised 40 percent of all doctors and 60 percent of all teachers in Kabul University.
Keeping in view the discriminated status of women in our history in mind, these numbers are just extra-ordinary. Further, 440,000 female students were enrolled in different educational institutions and about 80,000 more were enrolled in some sorts of literacy programs and campaigns. One of the basic reasons of the rise of women participation in education sector was the support of the government by Soviet Union that believed in principles of socialism, not depriving any one of education on the basis of gender. The presence and role of Soviet Union in Afghanistan can always be condemned because of its imperialistic nature but its influence can never be ignored on the development of education sector and the numbers mentioned above favor the argument.
But the civil wars that followed the withdrawal of Soviet regime from Afghanistan proved to be havoc for the education sector. Because of absence of strong government at the center, the situation of peace and order was shattered into thousand pieces. Various educational institutions were affected by ugly manifestation of violent intentions. And in the mid 90's there were only 650 schools functioning throughout the country. And what could be the number of students who attended the classes during the days of such frequent clashes is not difficult to figure out. But the worst days for the education system of the country were yet to come.
With the rise of Taliban in 1996, the decline of modern education system which was already not in a satisfactory condition, started. Taliban banned the female education and promulgated the madressah system of education. In almost all the madressahs the curriculum included the Arabic recitation, without translation and further elaboration of the perspective of Quranic Verses.
The students were confined to a single approach towards education and that was the Clergy approach, which depended on an extremist interpretation of Islam and Islamic concepts. Investigation and research were banned strictly, and students called as Talibs were not allowed to question their teachers. Rather, they were asked to blindly follow what the Clergy approach had to offer them. The basic purpose of education was thus non-existent in the so called education systems of Taliban. They were more like training camps for generating cadre for terrorist groups.
With the fall of Taliban regime, the education system in Afghanistan has been able to make important improvements. According to the current estimations, about 45% of males and 13% of females are literate in the country, which is far better than the past, but keeping in view the modern world, it cannot be considered satisfactory enough, as the criteria for being included in the above mentioned number is only being able to read or write a bit. Further, the number of schools has risen to a considerable rate. Almost 5000 schools have been built but most of them lack proper facilities of education. And with the rise in the number of schools there has been 7-fold rise in the number of teachers as well, but unfortunately, only 22% of them meet the minimum qualification of Grade 14, while only a negligible number has professional teaching training.
Moreover, almost 40,000 students graduate from high school every year and only one-third get admitted in universities, while others run after jobs, as their families can not afford to support them for too long. Another development that has been made in education sector is the addition of private institutes in the urban areas of the country. They, definitely, seem to have better education methodology regarding modern education but majority of the students can not have access to that education because of the high fees charged by them.
Provided that there have been appreciations of formal educational institutes, a large number of madressahs still exist in the country and people have the inclination to send their children to such madressahs, where they have "Extremism" as the only subject in their syllabus. In addition, discriminating sentiments against females are very common in most parts of the country. It is still considered not appropriate enough to admit them in schools.
At the present time nothing is so urgently required for our nation as modern education – Education that should be based on up to date information, analysis and developments in different fields of knowledge and must be aided with modern technology; education that can give the coming generation of Afghanistan an outlook other than extremism. And all these have to be provided to the people of Afghanistan without charging them much, as majority of the people are already suffering severely under the reign of deteriorated socio-economic situation.