Afghanistan: School Funding Needed as Number of Students Increases

The number of students enrolled in Afghanistan’s schools has increased dramatically over the last eight months, according to an ongoing survey by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) back-to-school program. With a campaign target of 1.78 million child enrollees nationwide, the survey Ñ which started in May and will end in September Ñ shows that 1.25 million children are already attending schools in 20 of Afghanistan’s 32 provinces. “The latest information shows that 30 percent of pupils now attending school are girls, and the ratio between girls and boys is relatively similar across the country,” said UNICEF spokesman Edward Carwardine. In addition, women now account for 36 percent of the 27,000 teachers in the surveyed regions. Under the repressive Taliban regime, girls were not allowed to attend school and women were prohibited from teaching.

However, this data also shows a continued need for more educational funding. UNICEF requested a total of $57 million for the 2002 education campaign in Afghanistan and nearly all of the $33 million received has been exhausted, according to UNICEF. An additional $24 million is estimated as needed to pay for teachers, training, curricula development, books, and supplies, among other needs.

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UNICEF Press Centre 7/11/02; UNICEF Back to school update 7/22/02; UN IRIN 7/16/02

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