A study of education and social changes in Afghanistan

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Eqbal, Ghulam Ahmad
McElhinney, James H.
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The purpose of this study was to examine the 70 years' experiment of formal education sponsored by the state in relation to national economic development and improvement of conditions of life of the individuals in Afghanistan. Considering the functions of education in the society, the study was planned to find out to what extent formal educational institutions of Afghanistan served as cultural tools for maintaining social control by the ruling authorities and to what extent educational institutions served as elements of change and development.The study was based on the theory that, in the presence of social inequality, formal education and other communicational media can serve as cultural tools of the ruling powers for controlling the potentials of the subjects to fit and adjust to the present norms rather than providing a learning opportunity where the subjects could develop effective and productive potentials, skills and competencies necessary for approaching current problems, improving conditions, and moving toward more ligitimacy, equality and autonomy.Education as means of social control and social change were described and presented. Functions of individuals, their social and natural needs, functions of society and the natural needs and motives for constant changes of the social institutions were analyzed and identified. Using the above functions along with the findings of the related literature reviewed in the study as criteria for the assessment of problems, it was discovered that,1. Social inequality did exist in Afghanistan during the period that the study covers.2. After the assassination of King Nadir and his brother by Kabul students in 193.3 until the end of the Monarchy in 1972, formal educational institutions did serve as a cultural tool for controlling the new generations.3. By monopolizing the press and publicity, the Royal government did control the communicational media and suppress public demands and reactions.4. Parents, teachers, and students did not have influence or choice in educational objectives, policies, planning, distribution, and the school curricula.5. Kabul City, where most of the elite live, still have more educational opportunities, qualified personnel and better facilities in their schools than the rest of the schools in the nation.6. During the 1950s and 1960s, when economic plans were launched and Afghanistan received extensive amounts of foreign aid, financially. and technically; urbanization and industrialization were the focus instead of concentrating on Afghan domestic economy which was based on agricultural production.7. Educational programs and organizations were not articulated and adjusted with economic reforms.8. Unemployment among the educated and low income capita in the 1970s proved that Afghan economy and education have reached a stagnant point. 9. Serious institutional and educational changes are necessary for proper functioning of the economic and educational system in order to facilitate meeting the needs and problems of Afghan society.In order to meet the above needs and problems a series of recommendations supported by the related research presented: Economic Development:In order to give momentum to economic development: - Economic production should become self-generating which means that the consumption should be drawn from profit not from initial capital for investment.- Domestic resources and manpower should be utilized rather than dependency on foreign aid.- Reward and profit should be distributed in such a way to motivate the productive manpower. Without equality of work with reward the productive manpower would resent the exploitation and may not involve their full potentials in production which will affect the quality and quantity of national production.- Reward and punishment should Lave pluralistic perspectives and criteria rather than being based on ethnic, kinship or other social stratifications. Educational Changes- Education should meet the natural and social needs of man for survival and coexistence.- Educational objectives should be based on individual. and societal needs and problems rather than mainly focussing on the survival and the domination of the ruling powers.- Educational content (curricula) should have modifiable components adjustable to the social and natural needs of the child and his environmental conditions.- Since over 80 percent of the population make their living through agricultural production (farming and animal husbandry and the light industry related to agricultural production), school curricula should be changed from entirely literacy and academic orientation to also include vocational so the new generation develops employable and productive skills and potentials.It is hoped that the identification of problems, the analysis of the causes and effects of the problems in relation to the social conditions, and finally, that the alternatives presented in this study create enough concern among the decision-makers, teachers, parents, and students in Afghanistan to stimulate further inquiry in readjusting the educational organization and content into a system that not only the elite children but the frustrated and restless peasant and underemployed population could also play effective and productive roles in their individual and social lives.