Afghanistan Table of Contents

As with other sectors, statistics are difficult to confirm. Since 1978, particularly, validated nation-wide data have been impossible to obtain with the result that official figures on which much recently published data are based should be employed with great caution.


Nevertheless, pre-war trends when the literacy rate was estimated at 11.4 percent ( 18.7 percent male; 2.8 female), persist and provide useful patterns reflected in the present. Then, as now, economic, regional and gender bias was very noticeable. Urban-rural and regional disparities are still valid. In urban settings 25.9 percent (35.5 percent male; 14.8 percent female) of the population six years old and over were literate, but in rural areas literate accounted for only 8.8. percent (15.7 percent male; 0.6 percent female, in some provinces 0.1 percent). Regionally, 32 percent of the students attending schools in 1978 lived in the Central region around Kabul, compared with only 3.8 percent living in the East Central mountains of Bamiyan and Ghor. Contrasting 1993 official figures giving an overall literacy rate of 29.8 percent (45.2 percent males; 13.5 percent females) assumes that expanded educational efforts during the intervening years were effective. In reality the bulk of the students represented in the enrollment figures remain functionally illiterate.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress