Education Under Attack 2020 Country Profile

Sep 2020

Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, 2020

The 2017-2019 reporting period saw increased fighting between the Afghan government, international forces, and non- state armed groups, including the Taliban and the “Islamic State of Khorasan Province” (ISKP) in Afghanistan. In 2019, multiple peace talks between the United States and the Taliban took place in Qatar amidst ongoing fighting, however no peace deal was reached during the reporting period.

Fighting between armed parties, along with targeted attacks by the Taliban and “ISKP”, caused substantial numbers of civilian casualties. In 2019, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recorded 3,403 civilian deaths and 6,989 civilian injuries – the lowest level of civilian casualties recorded since 2013.240 However, signi cant periods of violence occurred during the year; between July and September 2019, UNAMA recorded the highest number of civilian casualties in a single quarter since 2009.Violence particularly impacted young people in 2019, when the UN reported that children comprised 30 percent of all civilian causalities and 78 percent of all casualties from explosive remnants of war (ERW) and landmines.

Rising insecurity appeared to have a negative e ect on school attendance. According to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education, UNICEF, and Samuel Hall, provinces experiencing higher rates of insecurity also had higher rates of out-of-school children. In 2018, the Afghanistan Education in Emergencies Working Group (EiEWG) found that 31 out of 34 provinces in Afghanistan experienced at least one school closure due to insecurity. As of October 2019, the UN reported 722 schools as forcibly closed, which a ected access to education for approximately 328,094 children; Kandahar, Helmand, and Ghazni provinces had the highest number of closed or damaged schools, according to the Afghanistan EiEWG.

Girls’ education was particularly affected by the conflict, with greater numbers of girls out of school in areas of the country under the control of non-state armed groups. The UN reported in 2018 that the Ministry of Education (MoE), based on previous years’ surveys, estimated that 3.7 million children were out of school in Afghanistan, with girls estimated to be 60 percent of this figure.  Of households surveyed in the 2019 Whole of Afghanistan assessment, approximately 18 percent of households whose girls did not attend schools reported the reason as insecurity at or on the way to or from school, whereas 32 percent reported cultural reasons as the primary obstacle.

Attacks on education accelerated during the reporting period, largely related to the use of schools for election-related purposes, crossfire, intimidation, and threats. Between January and May 2018, the Ministry of Education reported 870 attacks on schools, cases of threat or intimidation targeting students, education staff, or education facilities, or fighting in the vicinity of school grounds. These included 86 cases in which schools were directly targeted. UN-verified numbers of attacks on education were lower than MoE-consolidated data, but still represented a dramatic increase. In a 2019 survey, Save the Children found that of schools attacked or used by armed forces or armed groups, 58 percent reported that attacks resulted in school closures and 35 percent reported that attacks on educational facilities forced students to study in damaged schools, outdoor areas, or other temporary spaces.

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