Afghanistan has been suffering from protracted conflict for over 40 years, which has produced recurrent and sustained situations of internally displaced persons, refugees and returnees. The country has also been exposed to other repetitive emergencies such as droughts and floods. As a result of these challenges, Afghanistan is among the few countries in South Asia with a significant number of illiterate youth and adults, estimated at over 12 million (60% of them female) (UNESCO, 2020). The overall literacy rate in the country stands at 43% (only 29.8% for women), while the literacy rate for youth (15-24) is 65%, which indicates a huge gap both in terms of age groups and gender.
Despite improvements in education since 2002, the recent gains are at risk given the COVID-19 pandemic. The disease has been spreading fast throughout the country since March which forced the government to close all educational institutions on March 14th, including public and private schools, community-based schools, and literacy courses for youth and adults.
What are the government initiatives on youth and adult literacy?
The government of Afghanistan has developed a comprehensive education response plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on the plan, the Deputy Ministry of Education for Literacy (DMoEL) developed detailed implementation guidelines for youth and adult literacy for use during the COVID pandemic, which outline: i) distance learning through TV and radio, ii) small group learning (5 students per shift in open space), iii) self and family literacy at home; iv) self-capacity building of literacy facilitators.