COVID-19 response

Allocation: US$11 million

Years: 2020-2021

Grant agent: UNICEF

Key documents:

The grant will support the following interventions:

  • Distributing WASH and hygiene supplies to schools. Training local community members and teachers to maintain WASH/hygiene equipment, and training school staff and students to adhere to social distancing guidelines and in the use of water and hygiene supplies
  • Recruiting and deploying “volunteer” teachers, especially female. Providing teachers with online training to develop their capacities for learning assessments and remediation
  • Developing and implementing guidelines for student assessments and exams, monitoring and supporting teachers in analyzing results and using them to prepare interventions enabling students to successfully complete their academic year
  • Distributing student learning kits, teacher pedagogical support kits, and classrooms learning supplies
  • Supporting accelerated and remedial “make-up” classes for students who have fallen below their grade level, with special attention to IDPs and students at risk of being stigmatized or abused
  • Public schools - especially those in COVID-19 high-risk provinces - are tracked, assessed and ready for re-opening with the resources, information and materials they need to welcome children, and keep them and their teachers physically safe

In late March 2020, the UNICEF office in Afghanistan received a GPE grant of US$70,000 to support the Ministry of Education with the development of a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan for the immediate, medium- and long-term impact of the pandemic on the education system.

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.

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Latest grant

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

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
Allocation: US$125,000,000
Years: 2019-2024
Grant agent: WB
Utilization: US$4,950,525

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

US$20 million accelerated grant:

The program supported by US$20 million in GPE accelerated funding focuses on expanding community-based education (CBE) to enroll children aged 7-9 in grade 1, and alternative learning centers (ALCs) to enroll children aged 10-14 in grade 1, in emergency-affected areas with high numbers of out-of-school children.

According to guidelines by the Ministry of Education, CBE providers are aligned to the national curriculum.

This program has two strategic objectives:

  1. Broaden and improve access to inclusive quality education for emergency-affected out-of-school girls and boys through community-based provision that meets minimum standards
  2. Create safe and protective teaching and learning environments in the context of COVID-19 by providing access to clean water, hygiene and winterization kits.

The program will:

  • Recruit, train and deploy teachers, especially female teachers, and provide them with a professional development package.
  • Ensure a fully integrated child-protection approach, with activities designed, implemented and monitored through a COVID-19 mitigation and recovery lens.
  • Provide a basic winterization kit for each CBE institution.
  • Local public schools participate in the CBE arrangement by providing oversight, registering CBE learners as they enroll and complete the CBE curriculum, and by taking over the education of these children.

The program will establish 5,000 community-based learning spaces in hard-to-reach areas, targeting 150,000 emergency-affected out-of-school children, of which 60% are girls.

Out-of-school girls will be prioritized and, as needed, gender-segregated learning spaces will be established. Of these learning spaces, 4,000 will be for children aged 7-9 (in CBCs) and 1,000 for children aged 10-14 (in ALCs).

Standard student learning kits, teacher pedagogical support packages and classroom education supplies (tents, blackboards, plastic mats) will be distributed to all the CBEs. The program will also recruit and train 5,000 teachers (with a minimum target of 50% female).

Professional development will focus on child-centered, gender inclusive, protective and interactive methodologies, core subjects, classroom management, social cohesion and psychosocial support. Selection criteria of teachers will be aligned with Afghanistan’s CBE policy and guidelines, with preference given to female recruitment.

The program will conduct community sensitization and mobilization for 25,000 teachers (with a minimum target of 30% female) and School Management Shura (SMS) members.

The program will provide water and sanitation facilities and winterization kits for the 5,000 CBEs. These will include clean water chlorination, disinfectant materials, hygiene kits and handwashing stations.

25,000 local community members and teachers will be trained to place, use and maintain water and hygiene supplies, and to support students’ hygiene practices.


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Utilization Grant agent  
Program implementation 2019-2024 125,000,000 4,950,525 WB Progress report
2012-2018 50,723,162 50,166,162 UNICEF Completion report
Accelerated funding 2020-2022 20,000,000 3,047,406 UNICEF  
COVID-19 2020-2021 11,000,000 4,804,992 UNICEF  
Sector plan development 2016-2017 154,250 152,484 WB  
Program development 2020-2021 200,000 199,999 WB  
2017-2018 200,000 199,980 WB  
2017-2018 200,000 199,980 WB  
  Total 207,477,412 63,721,528    
Data last updated: December 15, 2021

Education sector progress

The graphs below show overall progress in the education sector in Afghanistan, and GPE data shows the country progress on 16 indicators monitored in the GPE Results Framework.

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

Public expenditure on education as share of GDP

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 May 24, 2021