Kirk (2004) suggested that teacher training in Afghanistan has also been gender-impacted. Given that men traditionally have an easier time moving through society (i.e. in both practical and less tangible ways), they are often able to obtain access to and control the terms of teacher training. In rural Afghanistan, this has particularly proven an issue where it has been both less acceptable and less safe for women to travel for either work or training.
In an effort to increase the number of teachers, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan sought to standardize teacher salaries by providing total salary and benefits equivalent to other civil servants working for the government (Report on Progress, 2008; Spink, 2004). However, as Spink (2004) observed, there is no clear evidence that teachers working in the official schools across the country are necessarily receiving the salaries required by the government.
Literacy and Attrition Challenges
A recent report noted that literacy rates in Afghanistan have not exceeded 25% for the entire population in the last three decades (Education and the role of the NGOs, 2006). Recent CIA estimate of adult literacy (age 15 and older) in Afghanistan placed the figure at just 28.1% of the total population. The majority of those identified as literate are male (at 43.1% of the total population) while the high rate of illiteracy among Afghan women (over 87%) has a profound negative impact on that literacy estimate (CIA Factbook, 2009; Andersen & Kooij, 2007). Dupree (2002) offered the figure of a 90% illiteracy rate (presumably including adults and children) for Afghans.
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