The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) called on the US Department of State to reconsider the decision to suspend the Fulbright program for Afghanistan, which provides talented Afghan youth opportunities to build their future.
Sam Mort, Chief of Communication, Advocacy and Civic Engagement for UNICEF Afghanistan, on Twitter expressed disappointment over the suspension of Fulbright scholarships for the Afghan students.
“Afghanistan’s youth need every educational opportunity they can get. Education is the foundation of their future,” she said. “Please reconsider. Please go the extra mile for them. Please put yourself in their shoes.”
Earlier, ABC reported that the US Department of State is seeking to evaluate whether to provide Fulbright scholarship for the Afghan students or not.
The suspension of Fulbright program is a shocking news for 140 Afghan students who won the scholarships but are now living an uncertain status.
“We received an email on January 29th that the US canceled the Fulbright program for Afghanistan and from now on, no student from Afghanistan will be enrolled in this program. This is very concerning," said Mariam Jami, who won the Fulbright scholarship.
The ABC cited the suspension of diplomatic and political relations between Kabul and Washington as one of the reasons for cancelation of Fulbright program for the Afghan students.
“This decision of the US is bad news for the education of Afghan youths. The US should mull over the decision and not sacrifice the education program for political issues,” Mariam Jami said.
The Fulbright program was launched in 1952 in Afghanistan. The Fulbright program for the Afghan students was once suspended in 1997 due to the then-government’s close ties with the Soviet Union.
The Fulbright program was relaunched in 2003 after the US and allies entered Afghanistan in 2001.
“This is part of the new pressure of the US on the new Afghan authorities. But using political pressure on educational issues could impact the educational system in the country,” said Hekmatullah Mirzad, a university instructor.
Over the past 18 years, around 960 Afghan students were granted Fulbright scholarships.