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School Enrolment Rates Surging In Afghanistan

School Enrolment Rates Surging In Afghanistan, Unicef Reports

More Afghan children than ever before are enrolling in the country's schools, with up to 5.5 million expected to return next week when classes resume after the holiday break, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has announced.

Just over two years since the fall of the Taliban regime, which severely restricted women's education rights, girls comprise 30 per cent of all students and the number of girls attending class has leapt by more than 30 per cent.

But more than 1 million Afghan girls aged between seven and 13 still do not go to school, according to UNICEF and more than 85 per cent of teachers do not have professional qualifications.

The UN agency said it expects 5.5 million children to attend school this year, up from 4 million last year. There has been a four-fold rise in the number of schoolchildren since the Taliban lost power.

Tomorrow UNICEF's Deputy Executive Director Karin Sham Poo begins a seven-day tour of Afghanistan, where she will tour schools and hold talks with senior government officials.

In a statement yesterday <"http://www.unicef.org/">UNICEF said key barriers to education in Afghanistan include the distance between schools and children's homes, the poor water and sanitation at schools and the perceived poor quality of teachers.

The agency has launched several programmes this year, many aimed at increasing girls' attendance. They include the establishment of 10,000 new classrooms, the provision of school supplies for 4.8 million children and 80,000 teachers, and the completion of textbooks for Grades 1 to 4.

UNICEF will also improve training for 50,000 primary school teachers.

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