The two cabinet members dedicated to the education sector in Afghanistan made discouraging presentations to the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The Ministers of Education and Higher Education discussed former officials doctoring statistics and embezzling money, as well as the role of cheating in this year's university entrance exam.
Asadullah Hanif Balkhi, the new Education Minister, told lawmakers that schools in insecure parts of the country are inactive. In addition, he said former ministry officials, who served under Hamid Karzai, provide false data for the government and for international donors, suggesting far more schools around the country were active than was actually the case.
These false claims have set the new ministry leadership up for failure, or so it was argued. Now, Balkhi says he must reconcile the funding that has been provided and the expectations that have been set with the reality on the ground. Reportedly more than 50 percent of schools in Afghanistan lack a building or have access to one but it doesn't meet the ministry's standards.
"It is a fact that there are no schools in some parts of the country, but all the expenses - including teachers' salaries - are being paid, and now we will bring reforms to this waste," Balkhi said.
Meanwhile, Farida Momand, the new Minister for Higher Education, focused the discussion on higher education around reports of local power-brokers and Provincial Council representatives interfering in the university entrance exam process. He called on the MPs to take action to ensure interference in the exam is treated as a punishable offense.
Both ministers discussed making improvements in the education sector and promised the lawmakers to work hard to fight corruption within their ministries.