Taliban Management of the Education Sector
AW examines the Taliban's stated vision for education in Afghanistan in 2023, comparing the Taliban’s stated vision for education and the reality experienced by practitioners, institutions, and students in the country
1 Feb 2024
Photo: © Afghan Witness, 2022, Bamiyan, Afghanistan
Below is a summary of our findings. Scroll to the bottom of the page to download the full investigation (PDF file).
This report aims to provide an update on the state of education in Afghanistan in 2023, and builds on previous AW reports on the sector. It examines the Taliban’s stated vision for education, based on communications from the Ministry of Education and senior Taliban officials - including the Supreme Leader - and compares it with the reality experienced by practitioners, institutions, and students in the country.
Throughout the year, Taliban officials have been vocal on education and their desire to transform the system in line with their views and values. In the first part of the report, AW analyses these statements, drawing out the consistent themes in communications, including:
● Ensuring widespread access to education, including for returning refugees from Pakistan.
● Promoting religious and scientific education as dual pillars of education, required to strengthen Afghan
● Improving educational infrastructure across the country to enable higher quality education.
● Reforming curricula to ensure alignment with Islamic Sharia and global standards.
● Strengthening the capacity of teachers, lecturers, and MoE staff.
● Encouraging patience regarding the roll out of women and girls’ education.
The report then highlights the realities on the ground, as reported by media, social media users, and sources in Afghanistan, and recorded by AW. Major elements that were witnessed included:
● The destruction of educational property across Afghanistan.
● An increase in the number of madrasas and private religious schools.
● Staffing changes, including an increase in recruitment for religious schools.
● The limited space for alternative options for education.
● Violence perpetrated against teachers and students.
● The ways in which women and girls’ education is often dependent on local authorities’ application of central Taliban policies.
Many of these on the ground realities highlight a gradual but persistent erosion of Afghanistan’s Republican-era education system as the Taliban attempts to take control and impose its preferred vision.
The group did not significantly amend the limited space for women and girls, despite ongoing commitments to do so, and aimed to shut down foreign efforts in the education sector, as well as seeking to exert control over madrassas as another vector of influence for unwelcome actors.
Although some of the on-the-ground realities explored in this report diverge from the vision the Taliban sought to portray, they often align with the Taliban’s worldview and interpretation of Sharia; moreover, they likely reflect the Taliban’s desired role for education within the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Access the full report here: