Nation-Building Is Not for All; The Politics of Education
In this AAN report Afghanistan scholar Antonio Giustozzi explores the deeply political and contentious history of education in Afghanistan. The report discusses the development of state education over the last 90 years in the context of nation-building, and touches on a series of crucial issues, including the role of religion; the priority of government concerns over community concerns; the importance attributed to universal education; the weight placed on female education; and the use of the curricula for the purpose of indoctrination.
In this report Giustozzi argues that although state promotion of secular education has had an irreversible impact in the villages, the present mix of half pursued agendas is counterproductive: it creates opposition from conservative sections in society, but lacks the strength to achieve sufficiently positive results to mobilise that part of the population that sees state education as an asset.
He concludes that Afghanistan needs a more resolute choice between two alternatives: either develop a more flexible educational system which adapts to the demands of the communities and abandons the top-down approach; or a renewed, strengthened push for centrally managed state education, with a better selection of staff and a more capable administration in Kabul. Both approaches have their attractions. The flexible, community-friendly approach would soften opposition, but at the price of weakening ‘nation-building’; while the top-down approach requires a much more effective state machinery to drive it.
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Afghanistan Analysts Network, Thematic Report, 02/2010
Released 5 May 2010