KABUL (Pajhwok): The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said on Thursday it was following up with Afghanistan’s authorities over whether international organisations would be excluded from education projects, which could affect hundreds of thousands of students.
“UNICEF is deeply concerned by reports that over 500,000 children, including over 300,000 girls, could lose out on quality learning through community based education within a month if international non-governmental organizations working in the field of education are no longer allowed to operate,” Reuters news agency quoted UNICEF’s Afghanistan spokesperson, Samantha Mort, as saying.
International organisations, including the UN, have been heavily involved in education projects, including community-based classes, often held in homes in rural areas.
Two humanitarian aid sources said that in recent days humanitarian agencies had heard that provincial authorities had been directed to stop the involvement of international organisations in education projects.
But the acting administration had not confirmed any orders to aid agencies seeking clarity.
“UNICEF urges the de facto authorities to place the best interests of the child at the heart of all decision-making and reiterates that every child has the right to learn,” Mort said.
The UN estimates that 8.7 million Afghans are in need of humanitarian aid for education this year and it was planning to reach about three million people under a humanitarian package for the year, which was revised this week to reflect lower funding.
The concerns were raised after a voice clip of an unknown person started circulating on social media since last day.
The person said all international organizations working in the field of education were being asked to stop their projects in a period of one month and hand them over to local organizations in agreement with the Ministry of Education
He said an official letter to be signed by the minister of education in this regard would also be issued.
A UNICEF employee, who declined to be named, told Pajhwok that 76 organizations, including UNICEF, working in the field of education had been asked to cease their activities.
According to him, they have been asked verbally to hand over all their related equipment to local organizations and stop their activities.
He also shared a list of the 76 institutions with Pajhwok that work in the field of education in Afghanistan.
The list also includes the Turkish Education Foundation.
A person, who works at the Turkish Education Foundation in Kabul, said similar rumors were being discussed in their office.
He said: “Since last day, Turkish officials have been busy holding meetings, but no one gives accurate information about what is going on.”
He said the Turkish officials had so far said nothing to them.
When contacted, Islamic Emirate spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said he had not received any information in this regard and promised to share information if received.
An official of the Ministry of Education said that the ministry’s spokesperson should comment about the matter, while the ministry has no spokesman at the moment.