Ei-iE

Afghanistan: Education International “schools should never be targets of terrorism or violence”

published 3 December 2021 updated 23 March 2022

Education International reiterated its support for education, peace, and human rights in Afghanistan as the country faces a deepening humanitarian crisis.

Earlier this year, Education International and member organisations expressed grave concerns about the safety of educators and about equal access to education for all, especially for girls, after the Taliban seized power.

The EI Executive Board, meeting on 2nd December 2021, adopted a resolution reiterating in particular that “schools should never be targets of terrorism or violence” and “education is a fundamental human right and adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is fundamental to promoting inclusive, non-discriminatory, and peaceful societies”.

Education International’s Executive Board brings full support to the people, educators and member organisations in Afghanistan, and calls on member organisations to lobby national governments to pressurise the Taliban to uphold human rights and the right to education of girls and women in Afghanistan.

Executive Board meeting on Afghanistan

The Executive Board of Education International, meeting on 2nd December 2021

Acknowledges that

  1. In the last 20 years Afghanistan has made significant progress in education. Encouraging actions were taken to reduce disparities between girls and boys, women and men, rural and urban areas, and different ethnic groups.
  2. Despite this progress, Afghanistan continues to lag far behind other countries with literacy rates being among the lowest in the world and more than half of adults unable to read or write. 50% of elementary school age children have never enrolled in schools.
  3. The Taliban, which seized power earlier this year, is known to target schools and educational institutions to hinder girls' education. From 1996 to 2001 it barred girls and women from almost all work, the right to vote and to access education.
  4. Despite recent assurances from the Taliban, it is feared that the situation may get worse for women teachers and students, especially girls.
  5. The international community must ensure that the right to education for all is safeguarded.
  6. Particular attention needs to be given to decisions and policies impacting on girls and women in Afghanistan.

Notes with serious concern that

  1. Since the Taliban came to power, terrorist acts have been on the increase and the safety and security of the Afghan people is threatened. There is increased violence against women teachers, journalists, and minority ethnic communities, like the Hazaras.
  2. The safety and security of all students and educators, especially girls and women is severely threatened. The Taliban government recently barred girls and women from attending secondary schools (grades 7 to 12).
  3. Due to a severe drought, the security situation and upcoming winter, half of the country's population (39 million), mostly women and children, face starvation and need urgent humanitarian assistance.
  4. Despite government assurances to ease movement across borders, the movement of people and humanitarian assistance across borders and in-country remains minimal due to security concerns.
  5. Teachers and other public workers have not received their salaries for over 4 months.

Reiterates that:

  1. Schools should never be targets of terrorism or violence. EI extends its support to the people, educators and member organisations in Afghanistan, the National Teachers Elected Council (NTEC) and the Afghanistan Teacher Support Association (ATSA).
  2. Education is a fundamental human right and adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is fundamental to promoting inclusive, non-discriminatory, and peaceful societies.

Calls on the authorities in Afghanistan to

  1. Uphold human rights, including those of women, children and minorities, and encourage all parties to seek an inclusive, negotiated political settlement, with the full and meaningful participation of women.
  2. Ensure that all learners have equal and unrestricted access to learning in a safe and protective environment.
  3. Support teachers by paying their salaries on time and engaging in policy dialogue with teachers' organisations.
  4. Eliminate all barriers to girls' and women's participation in education.
  5. Take immediate action against groups perpetuating violence in the name of the Taliban and evicting people from their homes, seizing their vehicles and committing murders.
  6. Enable people's movement across Afghan borders and throughout the country.
  7. Enhance efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and call on all parties to allow safe, unhindered access to the United Nations and its agencies.

Calls on governments around the world to

  1. Do everything in their power to protect the right of girls to go to school and to thrive free of prejudice, harassment, and violence.
  2. Ensure the implementation of EI’s Declaration on Schools as Safe Sanctuaries in Afghanistan.
  3. Welcome and support Afghan refugees arriving at their borders.

Calls on UN Agencies, Donors, IFIs and Intergovernmental organisations to

  1. Support education provision such that teachers’ unions are involved in all decisions regarding terms and conditions, the curriculum, teacher training and development, qualifications, and certification.
  2. Build meaningful and robust teacher union engagement in the emergency plans and work with Education International to triangulate and secure effective and accountable implementation.

Asks EI member organisations to 

  1. Lobby national governments to pressurize the Taliban to uphold human rights and the right to education of girls and women in Afghanistan.
  2. Press their governments to facilitate family reunification of Afghan refugees already living in their country.
  3. Support humanitarian efforts and education initiatives in Afghanistan.
  4. Work with EI as it sets up an observatory on teachers’ rights in Afghanistan.