First national teacher training programme in Afghanistan gets underway

News and Press Release
Originally published
KABUL, 16 February 2003 - A major step towards enhancing the quality of education in Afghanistan is made today with the start of the first nationwide teacher training programme, run by the Afghan Ministry of Education with the support of UNICEF.
During 2003 a total of 70,000 teachers will receive in-service training designed through a partnership between the Ministry and UNICEF. The first round, which starts this week in 29 provinces of Afghanistan, including Kabul, will target some 22,000 teachers. Additional rounds of training will be provided during the summer months.

The training programme focuses on new ways of teaching Dari and Pashtu, building an understanding of child development, improving classroom management skills and how to integrate mine risk awareness into the curriculum. 750 teachers will benefit from the training programme in every province of the country during the first round. Emphasis is being placed on including women in the programme, to help them catch up on the many years when they were denied the right to practice their profession in Afghanistan. Of teachers currently working in Afghan schools, only 15% have graduated from teacher training colleges. A large proportion of teachers have simply attained a 12th Grade education; the UNICEF-supported training will be of particular benefit to these teachers in improving their classroom teaching skills.

The series of eight day courses will draw heavily upon Afghan traditional literature and folklore to help teachers explore the rich range of material they can use for teaching the two main national languages. The courses will also be interactive, with teachers participating in role play and practice teaching with classes of children. The inclusion of mine risk education follows a successful pilot programme undertaken in 2002 by UNICEF, which introduced rapid mine awareness sessions into schools around Afghanistan. Landmines and unexploded ordnance cause up to 300 deaths or injuries every month; many of the victims are children.

In 2002, over 3 million children returned to the classrooms of Afghanistan - 30% of these were girls. UNICEF is planning to support a total of 4 million children in schools this year. The drive to improve the quality of education is an essential element of UNICEF's strategy to ensure that girls continue to return to the classroom, and to reduce the risk of drop-out amongst pupils already enrolled.

Media who would like to visit teacher training programmes in Kabul this week are invited to contact UNICEF in order to arrange a convenient time.

For more information, please contact:

Edward Carwardine, UNICEF-Media, Kabul + 93) 0702 74729

About UNICEF's Girls' Education campaign:

UNICEF's '25 by 205' campaign is a major initiative to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education in 25 priority countries by the year 2005. The campaign, which includes fifteen countries in Africa and Asian countries such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh, focuses on countries where girls' education is in a critical situation and progress would make a real impact.

UNICEF will work closely with national governments and other partners to identify girls who are not in school. In each country, UNICEF will work with the government to mobilise new resources, build broad national consensus about the need to get girls to school, and help improve schools themselves to make them more welcoming to girls.

UNICEF has chosen a manageable number of countries and based its selection on criteria that looked for countries with one or more of the following: low enrolment rates for girls; gender gaps of more than 10% in primary education enrolment; countries with more than one million girls out of school; countries included on the Education For All Fast Track initiative; and countries hard hit by a range of crises that affect school opportunities for girls, such as HIV/AIDS and conflict.

For further information please contact:

Allison Hickling, UNICEF New York, (212) 326-7224,