OLPC Afghanistan/Background

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Background summaries: Afghanistan, Nepal, Haiti, Rwanda, Ethiopia

National Education Background

Afghanistan has seen vast improvements in its education system in the last few years. In 2001, 800,000 children attended school compared to 7 million today. Despite these successes, only half (52%) of primary school aged children are enrolled in school. 50% of Afghan girls and 40% of boys don't attend school. Schools must operate in “shifts,” the average being three shifts per day. Because of this, each child generally receives only 2.5 hours of school a day, or only about half of OECD recommended average school times. Teacher student ratios are often as high as 1:50-75. Close to 75% of teachers in Afghanistan have not achieved the level of education to be a teacher or have an education level of one year greater than their students. Building more schools, training teachers, providing materials would require 6 fold increase to education (over 1 billion a year) and would take 10-15 years. <ref> "Briefing Note: OLPC in Afghanistan" by Lima Ahmad (AIMS), Kenneth Adams (AIMS), Mike Dawson (PAIWASTOON), and Carol Ruth Silver (MTSA)</ref>

Afghanistan's National Education Strategic Plan: National Education Strategic Plan (March 2006-2011): "In December 2006, the Ministry of Education officially launched a 5 Year National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) to take place from March 2006 to March 2011. In consultation with the international community, the NESP identifies eight priority program areas," including:

  • General Education
  • Islamic Education
  • Technical and Vocational Education and Training
  • Literacy and Non-Formal Education
  • Teacher Education and Working Conditions
  • Education Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Development
  • Curriculum Development and Learning Materials
  • Education Administrative Reform and Development

Afghanistan is now entering its second National Education Strategic Plan (or NESP II), which will span from 2010 to 2014.

Afghanistan Education Statistics

UNICEF's State of the World's Children Report 2009 Statistics
Categories Numbers
Total adult literacy rate (%), 2000-2007 28
Primary school net enrollment/ attendance (%), 2000-2007 61
Youth literacy, 2000–2007 (M / F)<ref> Youth literacy rate – Number of literate persons aged 15–24, expressed as a percentage of the total population in that age group.</ref> 49 / 18
Percentage of phone/internet users 2006 8 / 2
Primary school gross enrollment (%) 2000-2007 (M / F)<ref> Primary school gross enrollment ratio – Number of children enrolled in primary school, regardless of age,expressed as a percentage of the total number of children of official primary school age. </ref> 126 / 75
Primary school net enrollment (%) 2000-2007 (M / F)<ref> Primary school net enrollment ratio – Number of children enrolled in primary school who are of official primary school age, expressed as a percentage of the total number of children of official primary school age. </ref> 74 / 46
Primary school net attendance (%) 2000-2007 (M / F) <ref> Primary school net attendance ratio – Number of children attending primary or secondary school who are of official primary school age, expressed as a percentage of the total number of children of official primary school age. </ref> 66 / 40
Survival rate to last primary grade (%) 2000–2007 (administrative / survey data) <ref> Survival rate to the last grade of primary school – Percentage of children entering the first grade of primary school who eventually reach the last grade of primary school. </ref> X / 90
Secondary school gross enrollment (%) 2000-2007 (M/F)<ref> Secondary school gross enrollment ratio – Number of children enrolled in secondary school, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the total number of children of official secondary school age. </ref> 28 / 9
Secondary school net enrollment (%) 2000-2007 (M/F)<ref> Secondary school net enrollment ratio – Number of children enrolled in secondary school who are of official secondary school age, expressed as a percentage of the total number of children of official secondary school age.</ref> X / X
Secondary school net attendance (%) 2000-2007 (M/F)<ref> Secondary school net attendance ratio – Number of children attending secondary or tertiary school who are of official secondary school age, expressed as a percentage of the total number of children of official secondary school age. </ref> 18 / 6

UNESCO Education Statistics in Afghanistan from 2007
Categories Numbers
Survival rate to grade 5 47%
Primary to secondary transition rate 88%
Pupil/teacher ratio (primary) 59:1
Public expenditure on education as % of GDP 5.5%
Public expenditure on education as % of total government expenditure 23.3%
Literacy Rates for Male and Female Adults Combined 35.9%
Enrollment in public and private primary school <ref> The following four categories' information comes from a 2007 custom table which can be found at http://stats.uis.unesco.org/unesco/TableViewer/document.aspx?ReportId=136&IF_Language=eng&BR_Topic=0 </ref> 4,718,077
Enrollment in public primary school X
Female enrollment in public and private primary school 1,740,727
Female enrollment in public primary school X

OLPC's work in Afghanistan and the Surrounding Region

Since 2008, OLPC has been working with the Afghan Ministry of Education on several laptop deployment projects. To date, OLPC has committed over 5,000 laptops to fourth through sixth graders throughout the country. (Note: This section does not include the most up to date information; still waiting on the most up to date information which will be added in a few days.)

School deployments

  • Nangarhar Province: The first project took place in Jalalabad city at Istiqlal High School on March 17, 2009. The school was selected due to its size and the overall positive attitude from both parents and teachers about OLPC. Following the Master training in the Paiwastoon office and a four-day teacher training, 396 XOs were handed over to the fourth through sixth graders. Roshan Telecom provided internet to the school. The laptops (which are fitted with Dari keyboards) are pre-installed with complete localization of all core activities in both Dari and Pashto, the MoE's standard national curriculum books, economic information for parents, health information, localized updated manuals, and information for parents about the laptop.
  • Kabul: OLPC deployed laptops for fourth through sixth graders in five different schools in Kabul city. So far two schools have been approved for the deployment, including Soraya High School in Kart-e 4, Kabul City and Omeid School (also known as the Hope School) in Wazir Akbar Khan Watt, Kabul City. Soraya High School is a girl's school with some boys in grades 1-6. The Omeid School is a semi-private school where girls study in the morning and boys study in the afternoon. The OLPC team is currently working with the two schools in the preliminary stages of deployment.
  • Baghlan Province: On July 11, 2010, Afghanistan's Ministry of Education deployed an additional 279 laptops to children and teachers in grades four through six at Firdausi High School.

OLPC Afghanistan Partnerships:

What would it cost to deploy 4.7 million laptops to Afghanistan?

OLPC Numbers Cost
Number of Afghan children receiving laptops 4.7 million
Cost of Each Laptop $200
Total Cost for 4.7 million laptops $940 million
With $105.9 billion ($72.9 billion from the regular FY2010 budget + the $33 billion supplemental bill) requested in Afghanistan last year, it would take 3.2 days of U.S. spending in Afghanistan to provide 4.7 million Afghan children with laptops.

Education Development Initiatives in Afghanistan

UN Agencies/International Agencies Development Initiatives
Name of Organization Investment in Country People/Major Projects
UNICEF (see UNICEF section below for full details) (see UNICEF section below for full details)
WFP Fed 9 million people in 2009, primarily in remote, food-insecure rural areas. Focuses on vulnerable populations. The 2007-2008 National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (NRVA) found that 7.4 million people – nearly a third of the population – are unable to get enough food to live active, healthy lives. WFP has been working continuously in Afghanistan since 1963, and is active in all 34 provinces. In recent years, WFP’s focus has shifted from emergency assistance to rehabilitation and recovery. The organization's School Meals Programme aims to help the government rebuild the national education system. In 2009, WFP provided a daily snack of micronutrient-enriched biscuits or a hot meal to 1.4 million children to alleviate short-term hunger and encourage school attendance. WFP also provided 1.4 million students with take-home food rations to encourage enrollment, including 568,600 girls who received vegetable oil as an extra incentive to close the gender gap. Also involved in a number of other initiatives, including Food-for-Work, food for training, relief operations, campaigns against TB, Mother and Child Health Nutrition, vouchers, and air services to name a few.
WHO WHO website does not cover WHO's activities in Afghanistan, only lists health information in the area.
UNESCO Several educational projects have been implemented jointly with UNESCO such as LAND AFGHAN, which promotes literacy and non-formal education. Gender parity in education and in the media, as well as the development of the University of Kabul, are current cooperation priorities.
UNDP Since the Bonn Agreement was signed in December 2001, UNDP has delivered USD 1.1 billion of assistance to Afghanistan. In 2005, UNDP delivered USD 349 million of development assistance, mainly for elections, disarmament, reconstruction and institution building. In 2006, UNDP delivered USD 202 million focusing mainly on state building, security sector reform (police) and rural development. UNDP operates in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. UNDP's work in Afghanistan focuses on security and the rule of law, civil service reform, transparency and accountability, local governance, political processes, civil society empowerment, youth, gender equality, human rights, environment and rural energy, the reintegration of former combatants into society, the implementation of the national counter-narcotics strategy, as well as rural development and private sector development.
IFRC The IFRC is involved in a number of programmatic areas in Afghanistan, including disaster management, health, youth volunteerism, social welfare, food for work programs, vocational training, and tracing. As far as its most recent education initiatives go, it seems that IFRC is more focused on health education (particularly for H1N1 and its HIV/AIDS youth peer education program) Afghanistan as opposed to primary education.
World Vision In 2009, World Vision’s programmes in the country benefited more than one million people, both directly and indirectly. The World Vision Afghanistan office has 287 staff in Afghanistan working on 16 projects. World Vision now concentrates 90% of its activities in Afghanistan on sustainable, transformational development. Programmes providing increased child immunisation and midwifery training for communities in rural Afghanistan have, since 2001, contributed to an 18 percent decrease in the rate of infant mortality. Between 2004 and 2009, World Vision Afghanistan’s education programming (Food-for-Education) has seen a 98 percent increase in the attendance of girls at those schools supported by World Vision. World Vision has built or rehabilitated 41 schools in Herat, Badghis, and Ghor Provinces in the west of Afghanistan. They have also helped train 4,553 teachers over the course of four years of the United States Development Agency’s Food-for-Education (FFE) programme
Save the Children Save the Children's work in Afghanistan focuses on education, child protection, health programs, and emergency response. In partnership with the Ministry of Education, Save the Children is increasing access to education through school support, teacher training and community mobilization in poor, remote districts.In addition, Save the Children constructs schools in areas where large numbers of children – especially girls – are out of school due to a lack of facilities. Similarly, we construct latrines and wells, and provide much-needed health, nutrition and hygiene education through community-based, child-led health classes. These classes held are in homes outside of school hours, with volunteer child/adolescent facilitators. Both students and out-of-school children attend, leading to improved health outcomes for all children.
USAID In Fiscal Year 2010, USAID spent $2,777,000,000 on foreign aid in Afghanistan (not including diplomatic costs). In 2009, See foreign aid section below for more details. USAID is involved in a number of programmatic areas in Afgahnistan, including health, education, governance, and economic growth. USAID constructed or repaired more than 680 schools. Beyond its accelerated learning program that enrolled over 170,000 students – more than half of them girls – USAID support to government has translated into a significant increase in female enrollment at secondary and university levels. Technical expertise has been provided to the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education to build management capacities. More than 600 schools have been constructed or rehabilitated and thousands of teachers have been trained (more than 50,000 since January 2006). The female dorm at the University of Kabul has been rehabilitated. USAID has printed over 48.5 million textbooks for grades 1-12 and is reprinting 11 million schoolbooks. Also launched the Afghanistan Primary Education Project in 2003.
SOS Children's Villages There is currently no SOS Children's Villages Program in Afghanistan. Following the military action in October 2001 that was launched in the neighbouring country of Afghanistan due to the terrorist attacks in the United States, a wave of refugees arrived in Pakistan. As a result, an SOS Emergency Relief Programme was immediately started. The main goal of this programme was the establishment of a basic educational and medical infrastructure as well as safe playgrounds for children in the refugee camps. However, in March 2007, this emergency relief programme was closed due to repatriation of the Afghan refugees.
World Bank Since April 2002, the World Bank has committed over $2 billion for development and emergency reconstruction projects and four budget support operations in Afghanistan. The Bank has 23 active projects in Afghanistan with net commitments of over $883.6 million. The World Bank also administers the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). Supported by 31 donor countries, the ARTF has mobilized over $3.7 billion since 2002. The World Bank is helping to rehabilitate primary schools and train teachers, while giving technical assistance to strengthen the Ministries of Education and Higher Education. The Bank’s Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP) fund communities to rehabilitate or construct school buildings and access teaching and learning materials. Funds are directed through School Shuras. These Shuras are now functioning in over 10,172 of the country’s 12,000 schools. It is envisaged that by the close of the project in 2012, some 1,592 schools will have been built, with a priority on girls’ schools; 8622 School Shuras formed and active, with 1999 more Shuras to be formed; over 110,000 teachers and around 9000 school administrators trained; 2750 girls in 25 provinces receiving scholarships to complete their two-year studies at TTC; and 750 qualified lecturers recruited in 18 provinces.

Other Educational Development Initiatives
Name of Organization Investment in Country People/Major Projects
Aga Khan Foundation "AKDN’s activities in education include the construction and rehabilitation of schools, the construction of facilities for two Government teacher training colleges, adult literacy classes, in-service teacher training, the distribution of learning aids, as well as tutorial assistance and extra-curricular programmes in English and information technology. The Network works to support the Afghan Ministry of Education’s National Education Strategic Plan, paying special attention to female pupils and teachers. More than 93,000 pupils and 3,800 teachers benefit from AKDN activities to provide better access to quality education."
Councils in Jurm Valley This small corner of Afghanistan has seen vast improvements by using village councils and direct grants as part of an initiative called the National Solidarity Program, introduced by an Afghan ministry in 2003. Particularly interesting to look at the girls’ education component.
GTZ Since 2002, GTZ has worked with the Afghan Ministry of Education on a variety of educational initiatives, including supporting the National Education Strategic Plan for Afghanistan. GTZ is helping improve the conditions for better basic education, teacher training and continuing education, as well as reforming the education sector in Afghanistan.
Swedish Committee for Afghanistan Currently supports 45 model schools and 1,1000 community based education classes, where the majority of students are girls.

Educational Resources
Name of Organization Description
Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) ACBAR is an organization that serves and facilitates the work of its NGO members in order to address efficiently and effectively the humanitarian and development needs of Afghans.
Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies The Inter-Agency Network is an open global network of representatives from NGOs, UN agencies, donor agencies, governments, academic institutions, schools and affected populations working together to ensure all persons the right to quality and safe education in emergencies and post-crisis recovery.

UNICEF In Afghanistan

UNICEF's Programmatic Areas of Focus:

  • Child labor: According to UNICEF estimates, 30% of all Afghan children are child laborers. UNICEF has set up drop-in centers where child laborers are able to learn in classroom settings.
  • School attacks: While school attacks occur in both all girl and all boy schools, in the last two years, school attacks on all girls schools have more than doubled in Afghanistan. Following these attacks, many Afghan girls have been forced to leave school temporarily or permanently. Although UNICEF employs a comprehensive “School-in-a-Box” concept for students following natural disasters, there is no mention of what the organization is doing to help children continue their education following these attacks.
  • Female education access & literacy: In addition to promoting community-based schools, UNICEF is helping teach community management committees about the importance of girls’ education and their role in making it happen.
  • Child friendly curricula: UNICEF is making strides in promoting “child friendly curricula” throughout schools in Afghanistan. This model, which has been implemented in more than 50 countries, utilizes a specific type of curricula. According to UNICEF, a child-friendly school must reflect an environment of good quality characterized by several essential aspects: it is inclusive of children, if is effective for learning, it is healthy and protective of children, it is gender-sensitive, and it is involved with children, families, and communities. Read more in UNICEF's Child-Friendly Schools Manual

UNICEF Afghanistan's Priorities

  • 1. Starting from 2010 the enrolment of girls in primary schools, will increase by 20% resulting in 2.64 million girls being enrolled in school by the end of 2013. 60% of girls enrolled in grade 1 during 2009 reach grade 5 of the education cycle (or 210,000 girls complete grade 5 in 2013) through improved quality of teaching and learning.
  • 2. 30% of all primary schools will be child-friendly or 3,300 schools practicing child friendly principles.
  • 3. Literacy rates among females aged 15-24 years will be increased by 50%, through expansion of literacy centers.

UNICEF's Programs in Afghanistan

Major NGO partners for UNICEF include Save the Children UK and Norway/Sweden, Terre des Hommes, CARE International, International Medical Corps, Merlin etc. In Afghanistan, the education cluster lead is UNICEF and the co-lead is Save the Children US.Examples of Past Joint Projects with UNICEF Afghanistan include:

  • Education for Afghans Initiative (Save the Children and UNICEF): Multi-agency initiative to develop basic competencies of learning in mathematics and language and teaching-learning materials. Save the Children is distributing education materials, conducting a school-awareness campaign, establishing Parent-Teacher Associations and reconstructing and building schools. Save the Children is also setting up temporary tents to house classes in areas where the buildings are not ready for children.
  • Girls' Resource Forums (UNICEF): Created in 2009, the Girls' Resource Forumn reaches over 2,000 girls and 100 female teachers in 20 schools across the west of Afghanistan. By giving participants the chance to learn, play and discuss issues important to their lives, the forumn aims to streghten the girls' self confidence and interpersonal skills.
  • Rewrite the Future(Save the Children and UNICEF): Save the Children has set up many schools in Afghanistan, particularly for refugees who flee into Pakistan. In this case, Save the Children provides teachers, training, and materials while UNICEF provides tents.
  • Thousand School Project (UNICEF and Japanese Government): The Government of Japan has granted $24 million in aid to education in Kabul, which is currently facing a critical shortage of teaching and learning spaces. By its completion in December, the project will have reached 48 schools and benefited over 80,000 children.

UNICEF's Country Budget Information

  • $30,168,900 was allocated to Afghanistan from UNICEF's regular resources from 2006-2009. In 2009, Afghanistan became one of UNICEF's "New Country Programmes."
  • $157,668,000 has been allocated to Afghanistan from UNICEF's regular resources for 2010-2013.
  • Since 2008, the United Nations has doubled their Afghanistan headquarters budget from $81 million to $150/160 million.
  • In 2003, UNICEF's budget for programmes in Afghanistan stood at $110 million. As of November 2003, funding to the organization stood at 88% of budget.
  • According to their Funding Appeals and Humanitarian Update, UNICEF's funding appeals from 2006 to 2008 decreased from $21.8 million (2006) to $15.9 million (2007) to $12.9 million (2008). Education has been the biggest priority in all three years of the funding appeals, with $13,813,383 (2006), $8,013,631 (2007) and $5,064,541 (2008) requested. All three years saw significant gaps in the amount of money requested versus donated.

US Military/Foreign Aid Spending in Afghanistan

Department of Defense Budget for Afghanistan: Fiscal Year 2010 Cost
Department of Defense $68.1 billion
Foreign Aid and Diplomatic Operations $4 billion
VA Medical $.9 billion
Fiscal Year 2010 Total $72.9 billion
Later on in the year, the Obama Administration passed a supplemental bill that allocated $33 billion to support troop buildup for the Fiscal Year 2010 in Afghanistan

Foreign Assistance Budget for Afghanistan: Fiscal Year 2010 Cost
Global Health and Child Survival – USAID (GHCS-USAID) $93,813,000
Global Health and Child Survival – State (GHCS-State) $500,000
Economic Support Fund (ESF) $2,157,932,000
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) $450,000,000
Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) $57,755,000
International Military Education & Training (IMET) $1,500,000
P.L. 480 Title II Food Assistance Program (PL480) $15,500,000
Foreign Assistance Total $2,777,000,000
Foreign Assistance + Diplomatic Operations Total $4 billion
The Administration later submitted a request for $1.6 billion in supplemental funding for the Economic Support Fund. Part of the $1.6 billion request includes $50 million to expand secondary and vocational education.

Department of Defense Budget for Afghanistan: Fiscal Year 2011 Cost
Total Amount requested to fund “Overseas Contingency Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq for 2011 $159.3 billion
Was unable to find numbers for JUST Afghanistan. Only Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

Foreign Assistance Budget for Afghanistan: Fiscal Year 2011 Cost
Foreign Assistance + Diplomatic Operations Total Amount Requested (includes increasing assistance to both countries, providing funds for governance, reconstruction, other development activities that will counter extremists, ongoing support, logistics and security for the existing U.S. Missions in Afghanistan and new funding is provided to support additional civilian staff.) $4 billion

Foreign Assistance Breakdown in Afghanistan from 2001-2010.
Type of Foreign Aid Percentage
Training and equipping Afghan forces 57%
Economic, political, and social development efforts 31%
Counter-narcotics, implemented largely by the State Department in conjunction with the Department of Defense, USAID, and the Drug Enforcement Agency 8%
Humanitarian aid, largely implemented by USAID and international organizations 4%
Total $48 billion
US Foreign Assistance Spending on Education in Afghanistan<ref> According to USAID representative Malcolm Phelps (mphelps@USAID.gov) from USAID's Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, USAID put aside $100 million towards education initiatives in Afghanistan for Fiscal Year 2010. A supplemental $50 million was later requested for the Economic Support Fund. On February 1, 2010, the Administration submitted a request for supplemental appropriations mostly aimed at supporting DOD war-fighting requirements in Afghanistan, but also including foreign aid needs. The aid is meant to support the assistance strategey complementing the "surge' of U.S. forces. Part of the $1.6 billion request includes $50 million to expand secondary and vocational education. </ref>
Category Cost
USAID Education Spending in Afghanistan for Fiscal Year 2010 $100 million
Supplemental funds requested from the Economic Support Fund $50 million
Total Afghanistan Education Funding Requested by the US Government for Fiscal Year 2010 $150 million

Other Resources

Afghanistan Education Resources

OLPC in Afghanistan

OLPC in nearby countries