The Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) has had two projects working in Afghanistan, which aim to improve learning opportunities and outcomes for over 79,620 of the country’s marginalised girls. Access to good quality education will give these girls the chance of a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.

The GEC was launched in 2012 and is the largest donor-funded global girls’ education programme. Through their strong focus on improving literacy, numeracy and life skills, GEC projects are supporting girls to seek out and secure their full potential.

GEC projects are implementing a diverse range of interventions in a variety of different contexts. They are financing access to education, providing materials for learning and creating safe spaces to learn. They are working with governments, communities and schools to raise standards and to build support for girls’ education. They are training and mentoring teachers and governors to improve the quality of teaching and the effectiveness of school governance. And they are working directly with girls to raise their aspirations and achievements, and enable them to transition from primary education to secondary education, or technical or vocational education and training or employment.

The GEC implements a rigorous approach to monitoring and evaluation. All projects must demonstrate the additional impact they are making on girls’ learning outcomes, using robust statistical approaches. This is generating a substantial source of qualitative and quantitative evidence on successful strategies for girls to learn and thrive at school.

"Imbalances in access to quality education persist and girls’ enrolment in secondary education varies significantly regionally, with much lower enrolment in rural areas."
Girls’ education in Afghanistan

During the Taliban’s reign, fewer than one million children went to school in Afghanistan. Now about six million children are registered in schools and about one third of them are girls. The State Ministry of Education in Afghanistan has produced a national education strategy and is now implementing teacher training, producing textbooks and building schools at a greater rate than previously. However, the number of girls in schools is now falling in parts of the country. According to the government, 3.5 million children are still out of school, and 85 percent of them are girls. Only 37 percent of adolescent girls are literate, compared to 66 percent of adolescent boys.

There are not enough schools in Afghanistan to meet the needs of the millions of girls – the majority in rural areas - who are still out of school. In half of the country’s provinces, fewer than 20 percent of teachers are female – a major barrier for the many girls whose families will not accept them being taught by a man, especially as they become adolescents. Many children live too far from a school to attend, which particularly affects girls who face safety concerns on the journey to school. About 41 percent of schools have no buildings, and many lack boundary walls, water, and toilets – disproportionately affecting girls.


Steps Towards Afghan Girls’ Education Success (STAGES) - phase one of implementation completed in June 2021, phase two completed in October 2023

The STAGES project provided education for girls and boys through community-based education (CBE) classes across 16 provinces. The project established primary and lower secondary CBE classes and accelerated learning programme classes in remote communities. The classes were complemented by additional activities including training of teachers and school management councils (school shuras), renovation of schools and classrooms, provision of school equipment, facilities and learning resources, and remedial support for struggling students. By June 2021, the project had supported 24,830 marginalised girls. Phase two provided community-based education to a further 5,145 students. In addition, 358 teachers were supported with their professional development through mentoring, teacher training and teacher peer groups. 

Community-based Education for the Marginalised Girls in Afghanistan - implementation completed in June 2022

This project aimed to improve the life chances for 49,150 marginalised girls who studied in lower primary schools (Grades 4 and 5) in community-based (CBE) schools in the first phase of the GEC. Additional support was given to 526 girls with disabilities. Girls who graduated from the first phase of the GEC continued in several transition pathways: 31,856 girls were registered in 300 government hub schools; 7,675 girls were registered as continuing in 263 CBE schools; and 9,616 girls were enrolled in one of 40 Technical and Vocational Education and Training centres.