The youth bulge and higher education in Afghanistan: challenges and the way forward
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The Afghan government is preparing to deal with the world’s largest youth bulge, a demographic event that threatens to destabilize the country if the Afghan government and U.S. aid agencies do not disarm the grievances of Afghan youth, especially at the university level. This thesis examines higher education in Afghanistan from the 1930s onward and describes how various regimes affected educational policy while in power. Also examined is how Afghan youth have historically been a source of instability if their grievances are not addressed. Despite tremendous efforts by the Afghan government and U.S. aid organizations to improve higher education after the Taliban era, implementing effective policies continues to problematic. This thesis answers the questions of why the Afghan government and U.S. aid agencies have had such a difficult time in implementing effective policies to address the youth bulge and challenges to higher education in the country. Evidence is provided to show that poor infrastructure, outdated curricula, unqualified instructors, corruption, religious activism, insecurity, high levels of unemployment, and underemployment are detrimental to national stability, as Afghan youth flock abroad in pursuit of better opportunities or join the insurgency out of desperation.
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