More Afghan Children Are Out of School, Reversing a Trend

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“We’re very concerned we’ve lost these hard-won gains, and that’s very frustrating in the humanitarian and development world,” Unicef’s executive director, Henrietta H. Fore, said. “If girls and boys stay out of school, it becomes very difficult to get them back into school.”

A summary of the study on the Unicef website said, “The ongoing conflict and worsening security situation across the country — combined with deeply ingrained poverty and discrimination against girls — have pushed the rate of out-of-school children up for the first time since 2002 levels.”

Girls account for 60 percent of the out-of-school population, the study said, and in the worst-affected provinces — Kandahar, Helmand, Wardak, Paktika, Zabul and Oruzgan — up to 85 percent of girls who should be in school were not attending.

The study attributed the change, particularly for girls, partly to family displacements caused by the war and the enduring practice of child marriages.

It also said shortages of female teachers, poor school facilities and the basic dangers of going to school in conflict zones “are also factors driving children — particularly girls — away from the classroom.”

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