Worlds of Education

Zerah Oriane / Abacapress / ISOPIX
Zerah Oriane / Abacapress / ISOPIX

The unseen struggle and challenges of Afghan teachers

published 13 February 2023 updated 23 February 2023
written by:

During the last four decades, Afghanistan has witnessed a series of destructive wars, and it is a fact that war causes deaths, destroys infrastructures, and severely impacts various aspects of people's lives. Throughout these times, Afghan teachers have always served the youth of the country, with honesty and dedication.

In the last 20 years, while the international community provided generous financial assistance to the country, systemic corruption and mismanagement of the funds by past governments resulted in the waste of resources and pushed Afghan teachers to the edge of poverty.

Most recently, the ascent of the Taliban to power exacerbated difficulties, with teachers facing unprecedented challenges and restrictions in their work. The establishment of strict rules in the work environment, enforced transfers, and the ban on girls’ education further added to the psychological and economic pressures on them, making teachers more vulnerable.

The Taliban’s decision to ban girls from attending education beyond the sixth grade and to separate schools and teachers based on gender was not without consequence on teachers. From one day to the next, large numbers of female teachers were forced to stay at home. Others were forced to work in schools far away from their homes. They now have to spend part of their livelihood on transportation costs, thus significantly reducing their purchasing power.

In the aftermath of the change of government, teachers did not receive their salaries for four consecutive months. As of today, although salary payments have returned to normal, it does not mean that the teachers' economic conditions have improved.

The current salary doesn’t meet the minimum monthly needs of a teacher because of the devaluation of the Afghani (AFN) currency against the USD. A teacher who used to receive a monthly salary of $100 is currently receiving $70, further reducing their purchasing power. This has forced a number of teachers to leave their profession or spend their free time doing physical hard work to support their families, which has a negative impact on the quality of education.

The payment of salaries has its own problems that are yet to be solved. The lack of cash in most banks both in the capital and the provinces forces teachers to visit the bank several times, bearing additional transportation costs and waiting for days to be paid. In remote areas, where salaries are paid in cash, teachers can’t receive regular monthly salaries and sometimes payments are delayed for two to three months. In addition, pension payments are also not made to retired teachers, due to the current government policies and financial difficulties.

Our organization, the National Teacher Elected Council (NTEC), makes every effort to support Afghan teachers who are experiencing the most difficult days in their lives and face an uncertain future. We are determined to continue our advocacy and raise our voice for a positive change and a bright future for Afghan teachers and education communities. Afghan teachers should not be a victim of the current political situation. I call on the international community to help raise our voice, and share our story with the world. Together, we can improve the lives of Afghan teachers and the quality of education in Afghanistan.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.