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The education system in Afghanistan includes a K-12 system, as well as higher education, which are supervised by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education, respectively.

Currently, Afghanistan is struggling to recover from decades of war that began with Russia invaded in 1979, followed by a civil war, Taliban rule, and subsequent invasion by the United States, compounded by a high level of internal violence, all of which has done harm to the country's educational system.

Prior to the Soviet invasion, about 40% of the doctors in Afghanistan were women, as were 60% of the teachers at Kabul University. Although illiteracy rates were high, the distribution between the sexes was more evenly matched. During the wars, teachers fled the country and school buildings were destroyed or appropriated for military purposes. When the Taliban took control in 1996, female students were not permitted to participate fully in the educational system, and the madrassas became the chief source of education, teaching Islam rather than mathematics, science, and literature.

By the time the Taliban was overthrown in 2001, nearly 60% of men and 90% of women in the country were illiterate, and the country was in need of skilled workers in order to rebuild. A great deal of international aid was made available for the purpose of restoring Afghanistan's educational system, and the country has made strides toward doing that. At the public school level, new school buildings have been constructed, and thousands of teachers have been employed. Although the public schools still include religious topics, detailed instruction in Islam is left to Islamic teachers. Kabul University, which had closed during the Taliban administration, reopened in 2002, enrolling male and female students. Other universities, public and private, were established, and still others were renovated or rebuilt to meet the demand for higher education.

Afghanistan still faces some obstacles, however.

Strategic planning is difficult because much of a lack of funding. Although international and private assistance is still available for Afghanistan, much of it comes from donors outside of the country, so it is difficult to predict a budget.

Most of the country's teachers left during the Soviet invasion and occupation, or during the Taliban administration. Although many have returned, there are not enough qualified teachers to meet the demand, so many of the country's teachers have not completed their post-secondary education. After the Taliban regime, the country's curriculum has become more focused on academics, but textbooks and reference books are in short supply.

Political and religious unrest remains a significant problem in Afghanistan, and several of its schools have been targeted.

About one-fourth of Afghan children between the ages of seven and fourteen are working, a problem that disrupts or prevents children from continuing their education. Female students have greater obstacles to an education than males. Besides cultural biases that favor males, roughly three-fourths of the country's teachers are male and many parents will not allow their daughters to be taught by men.

Nevertheless, these are problems that the Afghan government, domestic and international aid organizations, and others are working on.

A dual education system exists in Afghanistan: religious and academic. While the government provides academic instruction through the public schools, religious education is primarily conducted by clerice in mosques. As an Islamic Republic, both are important facets to the education of an Afghan child.

Students begin primary school at the age of seven, and the program lasts for six years, in which students learn the basics of arithmetic, reading, writing, and the national culture of Afghanistan. Upon completion of primary school, students have an option of continuing their academic studies or to study pursue such skills such as agriculture, aeronautics, arts, commerce or teacher training instead. Grades seven through nine are middle school for those taking an academic path, and a national examination is required for completion. Students who have opted for a vocational track will attend grades seven through thirteen, to complete a six-year vocational program. Upon completion of middle school, students also have an option to pursue a vocational education, which would be a three-year program, which is the equivalent of a post-secondary education.

Higher education in Afghanistan is known as tertiary education. There are three levels: a bachelor's degree, master's degree, and a doctorate. Currently, Afghanistan has six public universities, the oldest of which is Kabul University. Independent and international schools are also options for some students.



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