RAYMOND, Maine — After the Taliban seized Kabul, the Biden administration froze $7 billion of Afghanistan’s money in the United States Federal Reserve. Also, the United Nations Security Council is maintaining its economic sanctions against the nation. The two actions effectively plunged Afghanistan into a financial crisis. The low economic flow impoverished many, including teachers. Teachers are responsible for paying for classroom supplies to continue their students’ educations. In February 2022, UNICEF committed to paying stipends to these Afghanistan’s teachers to ease their burden.
Importance of Education
Education in Afghanistan is one of the most important steppingstones to creating peace and generating equality. Unfortunately, more than 3 million children do not enroll in school and are not in the process of gaining an education. At least 60% of these children are female, who are at a disadvantage in Afghanistan to obtain an education. As a result, they are less likely to break the poverty cycles.
Education anywhere is critical to ending cycles of poverty. Through education, one acquires literacy and numeracy skills vital to any workplace. Having these skills can help secure higher-paying jobs that can elevate someone above the poverty line. Afghanistan is no exception to this rule and its education system needs all the support it can get.
Afghanistan’s Education System and Teachers
Afghanistan’s teachers fight to improve education and literacy rates. The last available data is from 2018, when the literacy rate reached 43%, whereas it was previously 31% in 2011. This is a tremendous increase in literacy rates. This further indicates improvement in the quality of education and the quality of educators.
Afghanistan’s teachers come from two different schools of teaching methods. One school has roots in religion and is the older modem. The second modem is a compulsory education system the Afghani government that emerged in 1964.
To ensure that all Afghanistan’s teachers have similar educations and training, Afghanistan has Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs). By 2015, there were 70,000-80,000 students enrolled across all the TTCs, according to research that the Comparative and International Education published. There have been concerns that the quality of education in the TTCs is not enough to adequately prepare teachers for work in a classroom.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education started re-evaluating the TTCs with submitted reports from each school in 2015. The assessments involve assessing the accreditation quality to ensure the new teachers have properly prepared to educate children.
The quality of Afghanistan teachers has improved since the TTCs have become more widespread and now offer more job openings country-wide to the new generations of teachers, according to the same research. The TTCs can potentially entice more students graduating from high school to choose the life of a teacher. Still, given the lack of pay and the instability a teacher faces in Afghanistan, there is no guarantee Afghanistan can produce the number of teachers to keep schools open nationwide. The fewer teachers that are available to educate the children of Afghanistan the fewer students will benefit from education and those who may take longer to complete their studies. With less education, the students and younger generations cannot break the cycle of poverty.
Despite the hard work and years of schools and TTCs that Afghanistan’s teachers go through, since August 2021, they have worked without pay and resources to support their students.
Impact of UNICEF Funding
UNICEF is beginning to provide stipends of $100 to around 194,000 of Afghanistan’s teachers. The economic restrictions Afghanistan is navigating have caused many public-sector workers to lose their income, with one of the most-impacted groups being teachers. The UNICEF support will last two months, as the funding is “emergency funding.” However, if Afghanistan’s government does not find a way to resume salaries for teachers the funding may extend.
UNICEF has said that it will require an additional $250 million to continue funding. Still, the work of teachers is vital and they have the determination to find the funding. UNICEF’s assistance will verify each teacher’s identity to check their payment statuses and to monitor the effectiveness of the financing to see what needs more help.
It might not seem like a lot, but $100 is more than the teachers have been earning for four months. When teachers are not struggling to obtain basic needs for daily life, it will revitalize the attentiveness needed for teaching. UNICEF’s funding can guarantee Afghanistan’s teachers can work to bring high-quality education to them and break cyclical poverty.
– Clara Mulvihill