Senior government officials including Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and acting education minister Mirwais Balkhi on Tuesday marked International Literacy Day at an event in Kabul.
The officials stressed the need to reduce illiteracy in the country.
The acting education minister said the ministry is running a campaign, the literacy movement, to overcome the problem of illiteracy in society.
“Currently, 3.7 million children are deprived of the blessing of school and education. We continue our efforts to provide them the ground to go to school,” Balkhi said.
At the same event, Abdullah said different reasons have hindered Afghanistan from achieving substantial development and that one of the main reasons for this was the high rate of illiteracy among the people. He said the Ministry of Education has made good progress in terms of developing education in the country under the National Unity Government (NUG) but that there is still “a long way ahead to reach our goals”.
Abdullah called for a national mobilization campaign to reduce illiteracy and urged international organizations, religious scholars, the private sector and citizens to get involved.
According to a press release by Abdullah’s office, ambassadors of Japan and Sweden in Kabul and the envoy of UNESCO as well as Mohammad Ayaz Niazi, a prominent religious scholar and university lecturer, attended and spoke at the event.
The Swedish and Japanese envoys said their countries are committed to overcoming illiteracy in Afghanistan.
International Literacy Day, celebrated annually on 8 September, is an opportunity for governments, civil society and stakeholders to highlight improvements in world literacy rates, and reflect on the world’s remaining literacy challenges. The issue of literacy is a key component of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by world leaders in September 2015, promotes, as part of its agenda, universal access to quality education and learning opportunities throughout people’s lives. Sustainable Development Goal 4 has as one of its targets ensuring all young people achieve literacy and numeracy and that adults who lack these skills are given the opportunity to acquire them.
Afghanistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, currently estimated at about 31 percent of the adult population (over 15 years of age).
Female literacy levels are on average 17 percent, with high variation, indicating a strong geographical and gender divide, according to UNESCO.
The highest female literacy rate, for instance is 34.7 percent, found in the capital, Kabul, while rates as low as 1.6 percent was found in two southern provinces of the country. Male literacy rates average about 45 percent, again with high variation.
The highest male literacy rates are in Kabul, at 68 percent, while the lowest is found in Helmand, at 41 percent.