Education in Afghanistan

The government of Afghanistan is committed to rehabilitating the education system and has been increasing its support to education over the past years. But these efforts remain limited in the face of the growing demands of the education sector.

The education sector in Afghanistan faces many challenges including:

  • A high number of out-of-school children, with the majority being girls, children in remote and insecure areas, children with disabilities, children of nomadic populations and other vulnerable groups
  • Low quality of education because of poorly trained teachers, a lack of textbooks, and poorly equipped schools
  • Low capacity of the Ministry of Education (MoE).

The main objectives of Afghanistan’s education strategy are:

  • Increasing enrollment in formal education with a focus on rural areas
  • Providing a quality-driven and conducive learning environment in all general schools to promote effective academic and intellectual development
  • Improving access, as well as retention and completion rates, for girls, Kuchis and children with special needs
  • Developing and improving Islamic education to equip young people with increased capabilities for improved employment options
  • Ensuring that all students and teachers have access to improved textbooks and curricular materials
  • Developing the capacities of all teachers to improve the quality of teaching and the learning achievements of students
  • Increasing national literacy
  • Improving access, quality, and management of technical and vocational education and training
  • Increasing the capacity, effectiveness, efficiency, accountability, and transparency of the Ministry of Education.

The NESP so far has not covered the full sector to include higher education. Higher education in Afghanistan sits with the Ministry of Higher Education.

In 2014, 13% of the national budget was allocated to education making it the third largest sector in volume of spending, after security and infrastructure. The seven-fold increase in demand for education since 2001 has placed significant strain on the system, leading to increased donor dependence.

Source: Ministry of Finance, National Budget Document, 1394 Fiscal Year

The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), established in 2002, is the largest single source of on-budget financing for Afghanistan’s development including education. The ARTF is supported by 33 donors and administered by the World Bank

The major undertaking in 2015/2016 will be the development of Afghanistan’s new national education strategic plan, as a foundation for critical education reforms and the improved coordination of domestic and external resources.

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Latest grant

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

CREDIT: GPE/Jawad Jalali
Development objective: increase and sustain equitable access to education in the target districts.
Grant agent:UNICEF

The overall objective of the program funded by the US$55.7 million GPE grant is to increase and sustain equitable access to education in selected target districts in Afghanistan that have low education indicators, extreme gender inequalities, difficult access (rural, remote, underserved, etc.) and insecure conditions.

In 2014, the GPE Board approved a new indicative allocation of up to US$100 million to support education in Afghanistan. There is a three-year window (2016-2018) in which Afghanistan can apply for this indicative allocation, based on a credible new NESP III endorsed by the development partners.

The main priorities of the program are:

  1. Strengthening community, social mobilization, and governance systems at the local level by:
    • Developing and monitoring the implementation of school improvement plans as key mechanisms to rally communities, teachers, and students around the delivery of quality education at the local level.
    • Engaging political, traditional and religious leaders and elders to promote education.
  2. Expanding and reinforcing multiple pathways to education by:
    • Improving the implementation of community-based education, accelerated learning programs, and mosque-based education and facilitate bridges to the formal education system.
    • Reopening a number of schools that have been closed.
  3. Increasing the number of qualified female teachers in areas with high gender disparities by:
    • Using a system of incentives to encourage female teachers from urban areas to work in districts without female teachers.
    • Supporting accelerated and simultaneous teacher training for adolescent girls in the targeted districts.
  4. Streamlining policy and administrative systems in the Ministry of Education by:
    • Building a system of policies, procedures, and standards.
    • Increasing the capacity and sustainability of the MoE’s human resources in planning and monitoring.
    • Strengthening the coordination and resource mobilization function in the MoE.

In 2015, the program was extended to December 2016.

The coordinating agencies for Afghanistan are USAID and UNICEF, and the local education group includes other development partners that are active in the education sector.

Source: Program document. 2011


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Disbursements Grant agent  
Program implementation 2012-2018 55,700,000 55,700,000 UNICEF Progress report
Sector plan development 2016 154,250 13,982 IBRD  
Program development 2017-2018 200,000 181,353 IBRD  
  TOTAL 55,854,250 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 September 26, 2018