In our 2017 Year in Review blog series, we share some of our achievements from our 2017 Annual Review. Last year, Children in Crisis made some significant strides in reaching forgotten children with education and protection services. In part three, we provide an overview of our key projects in Afghanistan, including further insight from our Afghanistan Programme Manager, Fareeda Miah.
2017 Year in Review: Afghanistan
Country insight: Afghanistan
Over the last decade there has been significant progress in school enrolment and the increase in the number of schools in Afghanistan. In primary education, enrolment increased from about 900,000 children, almost all boys, in 2001 to over 9.2 million in 2016 of which 39% are girls. More schools were being built and there was a slight increase in the number of female teachers. However, access to education continues to be a major challenge and an estimated 3.5 million primary-aged children are out of school, the majority of them girls.
Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous, and most violent, crisis ridden countries in the world. Households face constant danger of conflict and natural disasters, often compelling them to flee their homes, and for many Afghan children school is a distant dream. In 2016, the country faced unprecedented levels of displacement as nearly half a million people were internally displaced by conflict in Afghanistan and over 600,000 Afghan returnees were forced to return from neighbouring countries, Pakistan and Iran, and 50% of whom were children.
Children are not enrolled due to the lack of identity documentation; poverty and inability to afford education costs; distance to schools; lack government schools to absorb additional students; and a lack of female teachers. Furthermore, many children have unmet psychosocial and well-being needs and services are lacking. These challenges were threatening to counter any educational gains that the country has achieved in recent years.
Children in Crisis has long supported marginalised children in protracted Internally Displaced Persons camps across Kabul, and in 2017 Children in Crisis supported new Afghan return communities settling in Kabul. Accessing education during an emergency is a life-saving intervention and Children in Crisis focuses its efforts in supporting an Education in Emergencies (EiE) intervention by helping to take children off the streets where they are deeply vulnerable to abuse and exploiting and into an environment where their development and cognitive needs are addressed. EiE activities not only focussed on traditional school subjects but also on life skills and lifesaving messages for children and their communities.
Afghanistan: a snapshot of 2017
- 5,687 children and 3,654 caregivers directly reached by Children in Crisis
- 188 children caught up on their missed primary school education through accelerated learning classes
- Over 200 children avoided unnecessary or harmful detention
- 150 new women joined the tailoring classes
Community Based Education Centres
Located in in some of the poorest areas of Kabul, our three Community Based Education Centres (CBECs) promote safe and quality learning. They are also specifically designed to combat the barriers to girls’ education and they help children who have never been to school go for the first time. Through a unique model of Accelerated Education, these children are able to catch up on the schooling they have missed and then transition back into state education. In 2017, an unprecedented number of children were displaced in Afghanistan. We are working with these children in five of the poorest informal settlements in Kabul. The settlements are in chronic emergency and children have little access to education or psychological support. We have established 25 temporary learning classrooms that support 1,500 children. Students have been provided with all the learning materials they need and staff have been recruited by re-training teachers who are returnee refugees themselves. We aim to eventually find these children spaces within local Kabul primary schools.
At Kabul’s Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre (JRC) we meet children who have needlessly been detained without trial for months, only ultimately to be found innocent. Even petty crimes such as pickpocketing lead to incarceration, taking children away from their family and school – loading them with a stigma that follows them long after they have been released. Our Juvenile Justice Project is working to protect boys in an under-resourced, often corrupt system. This year, we implemented a programme to reduce the number of children incarcerated and increase the ability of the justice system to protect and support these vulnerable children. We have trained and mentored government Social Workers who are placed directly into 16 police district headquarters to support children during their most critical point of interaction with the law.
Access to education for disabled children
Children with disabilities face extremely bleak odds in Afghanistan. Poverty, poor healthcare, and a limited understanding of disability often lead to these children suffering neglect, abuse, and abandonment. This year, we began a pilot programme of family level care, which supports parents and guardians to better care for their children, reducing the chances of abandonment or abuse. Through social work with the family and physiotherapy these children are finding their way out of isolation and into education.