UNICEF provides primary education for underserved Kunduz children

By Muhammad Qasem

With financial support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), primary education opportunities have opened up for more than 5,000 children in Kunduz province, where they were being left behind because of manmade and natural disasters. [Courtesy of Kareem Dashti]

KUNDUZ -- Primary education opportunities have opened up for more than 5,000 children who have been left behind because of manmade or natural disasters in Kunduz city and other more remote areas of the province.

With financial support from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), centres have been set up in areas that did not have access to educational services, said Kunduz Department of Work and Social Affairs director Ahmad Shah Haqqani.

"This programme provides free primary education to 5,260 girls and boys in the provincial capital and nine districts of Kunduz province to encourage and prepare them to join formal schools," he said.

Based on the agreement with UNICEF, he said, the programme -- which kicked off in late August -- will provide educational services to the children in these areas for six months, in two shifts.

First-grade students are seen in a class September 8 in Rustaq Abad village, Kunduz city. [Courtesy of Kareem Dashti]

First-grade students are seen in a class September 8 in Rustaq Abad village, Kunduz city. [Courtesy of Kareem Dashti]

"These kids are between the ages of 7 and 13," Haqqani said, and include orphaned and unaccompanied children and those suffering from extreme poverty.

Children will be able to join throughout the six-month period, he said.

"Classes established by UNICEF in remote areas enable children in those areas to attend school, since very few schools have been built in remote and war-torn areas in previous years because of security issues," he said.

More than 500 primary, middle and high schools operate in Kunduz province, providing education to approximately 380,000 girls and boys.

Higher aspirations

Many of the children in the programme said they had been prevented from attending school by war, a shortage of school facilities or economic barriers.

"I am very happy that this centre has been established, so that we can continue our education and make new friends," said Zainab Muhseni, 9, who studies at one of the new centres.

"Every child has higher aspirations, and every day we go to these education centres with a lot of enthusiasm," she said. "We want this programme for a longer period, so that we can achieve our dreams."

"I have learned many new things since joining the centre," said Hadia Rahmani, 11, another student from the Kunduz city centre, whose father was killed in March 2021 during fighting in Kunduz city.

"We study English here and learn the alphabet," she said. "I hope all kids can study so that in the future they can serve their people and society."

"Every man and woman have the right to education, and it should not be taken from them," Hadia said.

A supportive environment

"We have a special education programme for children with lower learning abilities," said Kunduz city teacher Shekeba Amiri, who was hired by UNICEF.

"We teach them the Holy Koran, Dari, English, Arabic and math for six months," she said, noting that classrooms have been decorated to create a soothing and supportive environment for children who have experienced war and trauma.

"War and violence have left negative imprints on children's brains," Amiri said. "These children were very nervous in the first days, but their souls and minds are calming down, day by day."

"I am very happy that this centre has been established for the war-affected, orphaned and impoverished children, and I am proud to be their teacher," she said.

Children who live in the province's villages and rural areas were not able to receive educational services previously, as the only schools were in the district centres.

Bolak-e-Awal resident Abdul Khaliq, 53, said he was happy to see the children of his village, which is in the vicinity of Kunduz city, going to the local school.

The nearest school used to be a long way from his home, and his own children and those of dozens of other villagers were not able to attend, he said.

"Our children could not go that far," he said. "I am very happy now that the local school has been established close to us."

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No one in this country enjoys a better situation. The Taliban and the international community are not working as they are subjected to. Instead of addressing the main issues, they have engaged themselves in minor activities. This leads to wasting money, declining opportunities, and with each day passing causing more loss to the people, leading to Afghanistan's backwardness. All Afghans wish the schools should be reopened for Afghan girls. The Afghans expect higher educational standards for girls and boys in public schools. Along with it, people want that all Afghans should enjoy the right of access to higher education without any gender discrimination. In contrast, no one cares about these requests. Every day they send statements and make false promises. Rather than addressing the main issues, the Taliban engaged themselves in topics such as changing universities' signboards. They unreasonably think that the educational problems in the county will be solved by replacing "Danishgah" with "Pohantoon". The Taliban have to understand the priorities.


Kunduz and almost all the country's children face a terrible situation. The Taliban are betraying Afghanistan. The previous government also betrayed, and the international community that bombed the villages and houses of Afghanistan under the pretext of terrorists for 20 years also betrayed. The Taliban are doing stupid things now that there is no historical example. By misusing the name of Islam, they implemented the plans of Pakistan and Britain in Afghanistan and deprived Afghan children of education and women of working in offices. The previous government, however, was led by a Pashtun. Still, in reality, it was managed more by the former Northern Alliance members, was who just tricking each other and preventing progress. The International Coalition, which came to Afghanistan under the pretext of suppressing terrorists, bombed the villages and suburbs of Afghanistan instead of operating against the main base of terrorists (Pakistan), resulting in the deaths of Afghan women and children in the operations of all three sides. If the Taliban are clever enough, they must compromise with the United States and the international community. This is for the benefit of our people and country. Death to terrorist Pakistan


Sometimes before, I heard that USAID wanted to implement an online education program for girls deprived of public schools in different provinces. If the news is accurate, it is a tragedy. Education in school could never be replaced with online education. Additionally, what will happen when these girls graduate from high school? Will the Taliban grant them the official school certificates? Would they let them go to university and work? I don't think so. If they do not even allow them to go to school, how will they allow them to get higher education? I ask the United States and other agencies not to waste their money. Do not engage yourselves in worthless issues, and instead of opening these online schools, try to reopen public government schools and support them. Because the Taliban make the excuse that they cannot manage this number of schools.