On Monday, June 13, four NAC-PP members and six representatives from the provincial advocacy committees for public policy (PAC-PP) from Herat, Nangarhar and Takhar provinces attended an advocacy meeting with the Administrative and Finance Deputy Minister of Education.
Issues raised during the meeting had been brought to the attention of Provincial and District level officials, who explained not having the capacity to address them without support from their line Ministry in Kabul. Specific emphasis was placed on recruitment and appointment of trained male and female teachers, and the provision of adequate facilities and material. More specifically, the following points were discussed during the meeting:
- Enforcement of retirement law: While educational staff is increasingly aging, poor implementation of retirement provisions prevents young graduates of teachers training centers (Dar al Mu’alemin) to secure employment in government schools.
- Recruitment of professional teachers: There is a general lack of trained professional teachers at the provincial and district levels, with serious implications for the quality of education. As a short-term solution, NAC and PAC-PP suggested contracted teachers be employed to fill the current vacuum.
- Lack of female teachers is a recurrent problem in the provinces and districts. This is a major impediment for girls’ school attendance, as conservative values upheld by most families prevent girls from attending classes taught by male teachers. NAC and PAC-PP members suggested trained under-graduate female students who do not have the means to attend post-graduate classes at university and are unemployed be trained to be teachers.
- Schools lack basic educational facilities and material, this notably includes the absence of science laboratories, lack of and/or untimely distribution of textbooks to students by the Ministry of Education. Textbooks are not available at the onset of the academic year, and NAC-PP members requested the Ministry to raise this issue with the appropriate line department.
The Deputy Minister recognized issues within the human resources department and assured NAC and PAC-PP members these were currently taken into consideration. The main instrument for addressing recruitment and smooth turnover of staff is an updated database of teachers, which is notably to be used to track teachers who have reached retirement age and need to be replaced. The Deputy Minister ensured this point would be follow-up on. He also emphasized that there were more candidates among the graduates of the 300 Teachers Training Schools than available positions – which required putting in place selection processes at the district level. However, he emphasized difficulties in addressing the uneven distribution of teachers- notably female teachers outside of main urban centers – because of lack of volunteers for teaching in remote areas.
Concerns about the lack of professionalism of teachers were also acknowledged. The Ministry mentioned being aware of increasing interference of political agendas in the appointment of unqualified individuals, including as a retribution for campaigning during parliamentary elections. No specific measures were mentioned to address this issue.
Lack of adequate facilities and untimely distribution of text books were not addressed by the Deputy Minister.
Given the high reliance on budget challenges and restrictions within the Ministry of Education to address the issues raised, NAC-PP members will meet with the Ministries of Economy and Finance to coordinate on cross-ministerial issues relevant to the annual budget of the Ministry of Education. Coordination will also be undertaken with the Parliament to ensure that budget allocation for upcoming years is consistent with needs identified jointly by NAC and PAC-PP members and the Ministry of Education.
NAC-PP will undertake regular coordination meetings with all relevant stakeholders.