Almost 3.7 million children mostly girls are out of schools in Afghanistan, due to ongoing conflict, poverty, and discrimination against girls, the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says.
That represents almost half of all children aged between seven and 17, and it marks the first time that the out-of-school rate has increased, since 2002, said UNICEF.
The figures are part of the Global Initiative on Out of School Children report, released on Saturday, June 2, which indicates that persistent discrimination against girls is a major factor driving down school attendance.
Girls account for 60 percent of those being denied an education, putting them at a particular disadvantage, and compounding gender-based discrimination, says the report. In the worst-affected provinces – including Kandahar, Helmand, Wardak, Paktika, Zabul and Uruzgan – up to 85 percent of girls are not going to school.
The Acting Minister of Education Mirwais Balkhi, however, said that the ministry has the plan of building education centers for girls in the centers of the provinces with the financial assistance of UNICEF.
The official stressed that with the implementation of the plan, most of the children will get access to education.
“Now is the time for a renewed commitment to provide girls and boys with the relevant learning opportunities they need to progress in life and to play a positive role in society,” UNICEF Afghanistan Representative Adele Khodr said in a statement.
The head of public relations at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Shakila Nazari, meanwhile, said that unpleasant traditions, discrimination, and premature marriages are the reasons that most Afghan girls are out of schools.