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Education needs to be top priority in Afghanistan January 19, 2010

Posted by tackettmedia in politics.
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When Pres. Obama addressed the nation announcing a troop surge in Afghanistan a few months ago, I was not surprised at all. A first-year president, regardless of his political affiliation, really had no other choice than to take the direction he did.

However, there were two topics that I missed in his speech – education and a definition of victory.

For one, it was clear to everybody listening to the President’s reasons for a troop surge, that the Obama administration has re-defined what victory in Afghanistan looks like. However, the President did not clearly state what this new definition is, which made me question whether he believes in an American victory in Afghanistan.

Secondly, education is probably the most important aspect of stabilizing a nation where a majority of the population does not remember a time without foreign occupation or civil unrest. Basically, the Afghan people do not even know the concept of government. (At least the Iraqi people know the concept of government, even though they were living under a dictatorship).

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, 44.5 percent of Afghans are 14 years of age or younger, 53 percent are 15 to 64 years old and 2.4 percent are 65 and older.

The War in Afghanistan started in 2001, nine years ago. Consequently, 45.5 percent of the population (likely more than that) grew up during this current war situation. We know that prior to that, the Afghan people were in a civil war (1996-2001) under Taliban repression. And before, there was another civil war. Then in the late 70s/early 80s the Soviets were fighting in Afghanistan.

What I’m getting at is this: we need to engage in educational outreach if we want people to understand what government means and if we want them to be able to stabilize their own country. I’m not talking of imposing democracy or any other form of government. I’m talking about basic education: reading, writing, math and providing people with the resources necessary for doing their own research. Without this, how can a people understand the purpose of government? And, what is more, how can we leave in 18 months and expect Afghans to be able to maintain internal stability?

Again, close to half of the population in Afghanistan is under 20 years of age and has never lived under a functioning government.

Sources mentioned in this blog:

The World Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html

President’s speech: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan

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