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Education of Afghan girls still in jeopardy

Afghan children attend school in Kabul.
Afghan children attend school in Kabul. (Ahmad Masood)

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Friday, March 4, 2011; 2:36 PM

Can you imagine not being able to go to school because you are a girl?

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That was the situation for girls in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban, which controlled the country from 1996 until 2001. The education of women was illegal in Afghanistan, and one of the biggest gains since the change in government has been allowing girls to go to school.

Now those gains are in jeopardy because of lack of money to train teachers and lack of security in the south-central Asian country, according to a new report.

Today there are Afghan 2.4 million girls enrolled in school, but about 20 percent do not attend classes regularly. Girls miss class because it can take three hours to get there; parents are also concerned about school safety.

There are more than 12 million children younger than 15 in Afghanistan. (The country's population is about 29 million, or about twice that of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.). But only 12 percent of girls can read and write at age 15, compared with 43 percent of the boys.

"An educated woman is better able to stand up for her interests, raise a healthier family and contribute to the economy," said researcher Abdul Waheed Hamidy.

What would you do to make sure that girls continue to get an education in Afghanistan? Send your opinion to us at kidspost@washpost.com. We may publish some in a future KidsPost. Include your name, age, home town and a phone number. Always ask an adult before going online.


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