Wishing anonymity, a reliable source from the Ministry of Education (MoE) told The Heart of Asia that about 900 schools were currently closed across the country, with all their budgets and other benefits still going to the pockets of corrupt officials. "Some elements within MoE were also in cahoots with the perpetrators."
According to the source, most of the closed schools – over 300 – are located in southern Kandahar and Zabul provinces, followed by eastern Nangarhar province due to the growing presence of Daesh terrorist group.
Hassan Mubarak Azizi, a political expert who has also worked in the education sector, said the education sector has fallen victim to unhealthy political rivalry over the past two years, thereby augmenting the number of closed schools. "It should be explained why the total number of closed schools was 412 two years ago, and stands at 900 now. The reason is clear; the education system has fallen into disrepair due to a damaging political competition, dearth of proper programs, and existence of corruption."
The Ministry of Education lost a lion’s share of donor funds and its trust because it announced the existence of “ghost schools” on purely political grounds, Azizi believed, adding that communities abandoned schools they protected two years before since they were being discriminated against for their language and ethnicity, which was also a major culprit for the closure of more schools.
Previously, the Ministry of Education blamed insecurity, low student enrollments falling short of meeting the minimum threshold required to set up classes, merger of schools, and a lack of school essentials for the closure of schools; however, the source asserted that 80 percent of schools had been shut thanks to insecurity.
Taliban and other terrorist groups are considered as the primary factors for school closure, but Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have also been found guilty for creating problems for schools on some occasions. Afghan forces are reportedly using schools as military bases in some provinces.
Though we could not get the comment of the Ministry of Education about the exact number of closed schools, it had admitted the closure of 700 schools three months ago.