Education in Afghanistan

The National Education Plan (NESP) III 2017-2021 reports significant achievements since 2001 with regards to access and girls’ education. Since 2001, the number of children enrolled in General Education (grades 1-12) has risen by almost nine times, from 0.9 million (almost none of them girls) to 9.2 million with 39% girls. The number of schools has also increased from 3,400 to 16,400.

Despite these achievements, NESP III recognizes that there is still much to do with regards to equity, girls’ education and improving access and efficiency. Even with the increase in girls’ enrollment, many provinces have very low female students reported, with ranges as low as 14%. The availability of female teachers is also a challenge, with NESP III reporting an average of 33% nationwide, ranging from 74% in some provinces to as low as 1.8%.

With regards to efficiency, a major challenge is to increase the low overall primary attendance and retention (only 55% children aged 7-12 are attending), with wide disparities among provinces. Of the 42% of children aged 5-14 attending school, more than half of them (51%) are also involved in economic or household activities. NESP III highlights the importance of strategies to identify out of school children and those at risk of dropping out.

Blogs and news

Children and teacher raise their hands. Malawi Primary School. Credit: GPE/Tara O'Connell
January 10, 2019
As we start 2019, we share some of our New Year’s resolutions to ensure more children are in school and learning.
Girls at Ayno Meena Number Two school in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Credit: GPE/Jawad Jalali
November 26, 2018
The Global Partnership for Education is stepping up its support for countries affected by conflict with three new grants approved by the Board of Directors totalling more than US$200 million.
Students read in class. Burkina Faso. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
November 20, 2018
For Universal Children’s Day, we review a few examples on how GPE partner countries work every day to further the right to education so that children, no matter their circumstances, can thrive.

Latest grant

Students raise their hands at Ayno Meena Number Two school in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

CREDIT: GPE/Jawad Jalali
Development objective: increase equitable access to primary and secondary education, particularly girls, with a focus on selected lagging provinces, and improve learning conditions
Grant agent:World Bank

The Education Quality Reform in Afghanistan program (EQRA) aims to increase equitable access to primary and secondary education, particularly girls, with a focus on selected lagging provinces, anto improve learning conditions in Afghanistan through four program components:

  • Increasing equitable access to basic education, especially for girls in selected lagging provinces
  • Improving learning conditions
  • Strengthening education sector planning capacity and transparency
  • Technical assistance and capacity building.

EQRA combines two modalities: a project financing modality, called 'investment project financing' (IPF) and a results-based financing (RBF) modality. The former is focused on inputs and outputs; the latter is focused on results. 75% of the program budget comes under the IPF modality and 25% under the RBF modality.

The IPF modality covers component 1 (school construction, a pilot for school grants and expansion of community-based education, CBE) – to be focused on 17 targeted provinces – and component 4 (technical assistance/training, ECE pilot, third party monitoring of the IPF activities). The RBF modality covers components 2 and 3 and includes 7 disbursement-linked results with corresponding indicators; these indicators are mostly sector-wide and system-wide in scope, with a focus on reform and NESP III implementation.

The results-based financing indicators that address the areas of equity, efficiency and learning are:

  • Development and implementation of a teacher policy for prioritization in the hiring and allocation of teachers
  • Improved EMIS data collection and quality assurance procedures implemented
  • Existing textbooks distributed and teaching and learning materials for the new curriculum developed for all grades


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Disbursements Grant agent  
Program implementation 2018-2023 100,000,000 World Bank  
2012-2018 55,700,000 55,700,000 UNICEF Progress report
Sector plan development 2016 154,250 13,982 World Bank  
Program development 2017-2018 200,000 181,353 World Bank  
  TOTAL 156,054,250 55,713,982    

Education sector progress

The graphs below show overall progress in the education sector in Afghanistan. For detailed results from GPE funding, please look for progress reports in the grants section.


Primary completion rate (%)

Lower secondary completion rate

Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age

Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age

Pre-primary gross enrollment rate

Gender parity index for out-of-school rate – Primary and lower secondary

Public expenditure on education as share of GDP (%)

Public expenditure on education as a share of public expenditure (%)

Students/trained teacher ratio

Teachers trained (%)

Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.

Last updated December 21, 2018