Zerah Oriane  / Abacapress / ISOPIX
Zerah Oriane / Abacapress / ISOPIX

Analysing the Challenges Faced by Afghan Teachers

published 18 December 2023 updated 6 March 2024

In 2022, Education International (EI) took a significant step to champion the rights of Afghan teachers with the launch of the Afghan Teacher's Rights Observatory. This dedicated platform was created to document the situation of education in Afghanistan, addressing critical aspects such as teachers' salaries, working conditions, human rights violations, gender equity, girls' access to education, restrictions on women teachers, safety, and curriculum adherence to international human rights standards.

In order to make this happen, EI developed an online platform with one of its member organisations in the country, the National Teacher Elected Council (NTEC), to collect impressions from Afghan teachers. Leveraging interviews, surveys, and testimonials, this storytelling initiative reveals the real-life experiences and challenges faced by educators on the ground.

Education International will now analyse the testimonials from teachers gathered by the Afghan teacher union NTEC in 23 provinces. This collection of firsthand accounts sheds light on the multifaceted challenges experienced by educators across Afghanistan.

NTEC focal points gathered online testimonials across diverse provinces in 2023. Despite obstacles, including school closures due to winter conditions and, significantly, concerns for participants' safety, the initiative pressed forward. Meaningful insights emerged from the interviews. Unfortunately, in nine provinces, fewer than ten surveys were collected, particularly in the Southeast, where some focal points encountered harassment and detention, or were forced to resign due to security issues and fear of prosecution.

Six provinces (namely Herat, Samangan, Balkh, Nangarhar, Badakhshan, and Kabul), constituting 84% of all responses, displayed high survey numbers, with high numbers of female respondents in those provinces, reflecting over 70% of the total respondents.

Despite the pressure on closing girls’ schools by the Taliban authorities, over 44% of testimonials originated from educators in girls' schools. Over 94% of total respondents asserted that the right to education for girls should be fully protected and implemented. Only 33 respondents (including 22 female teachers) stated girls should “never be educated”. The majority however (70%) expressed the belief that women should be able to teach in boys' secondary schools, with 1,220 respondents stating they should "always" be allowed.

One-third of respondents had been teaching for 10 to 15 years, with a balanced gender distribution. Satisfaction with working conditions was relatively low, as only 15% of respondents claimed to be very satisfied, while 34% were "satisfied." Notably, 603 indicated happiness with their teaching experience, whereas 557 expressed unhappiness, with the majority (39%) describing themselves as "somewhat happy."

A significant finding relates to the perception of Afghan society towards the teaching profession. While 17% felt society "never" holds the teaching profession in high regard, 20% believed it always does.

The raw data collected will undergo thorough research, incorporating a deliberate gender lens, with the results expected to be presented in 2024. Despite facing challenges, this initiative has provided critical insights into the experiences of Afghan teachers, contributing to ongoing advocacy efforts for their rights and well-being.