Updates and how you can help

In August 2021, Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. Today, those who have most to fear – Afghanistan’s women and children – are still fighting for security and their basic human rights …including education.


Updates and how you can help

In August 2021, Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. Today, those who have most to fear – Afghanistan’s women and children – are still fighting for security and their basic human rights …including education.


Updated February 21, 2023

Since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, Afghanistan has become one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Woman and children have borne the brunt of this. The Taliban’s brutal repression of women has deprived many of the ability to earn an income. Nine in ten families are struggling to put enough food on the table. According to the UN World Food Program, an estimated four million mothers and children under the age of five are malnourished. Struggling to cope, the poorest families often resort to marrying off their young daughters, or even selling them.

As was the case when the group last held power, the Taliban considers an educated female a threat to its rule. Over the past 18 months, it has imposed increasingly harsh restrictions on female access to education. In March 2022, the group refused to reopen classes for teenage girls above Grade 6. Then, in late December 2022, the Taliban went further, banning women from attending university. These severe measures have come at a time when Afghan girls already face enormous challenges in accessing education. Even before the Taliban took control, 3.7 million Afghan children were out of school, 60% of whom were girls.

The international community has strongly condemned the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls. Afghanistan is the only country in the world where teenage girls and women are not allowed to attend school.

The needs right now are immense. So too is what’s at stake. A gift in any amount makes a difference for an Afghan woman or child.

What is Central Asia Institute doing to help?

Among Central Asia Institute’s greatest concerns is that the Taliban’s harsh restrictions on education will leave an entire generation of Afghan girls (and boys) illiterate and without the skills to participate in society and build a better future. To address this, CAI has been working closely with its in-country partners to establish community-based primary schools.

CAI-supported community-based schools increase access to education, especially for girls, by targeting impoverished and underserved areas where there are no schools or teachers, schools are too far away, or families do not want their girls to attend a government school out of a concern for their safety and security. Our community-based school approach involves:

Afghan girl in red dress
  • Identifying villages with high numbers of out-of-school children, especially girls, for enrollment at the primary level.
  • Setting up classrooms in the heart of the community, often in a teacher’s home or in a community building.
  • Recruiting, training, and supporting salaries for teachers.
  • Providing learning materials, books, supplies, and equipment.
  • Establishing local councils comprised of community leaders/parents to gain community buy-in and support, advocate girls’ education with local authorities and the Taliban, and provide critical oversight for the school.


In 2022, CAI-supported community-based schools provided primary school education to more than 5,700 children, the majority girls. For more information on the program, please see our Fall 2022 issue of Journey of Hope magazine.

In 2023, CAI and our local implementing partners are working to support even more children by expanding to 252 community-based primary schools. For older Afghan children who have never attended school and who are at risk of falling behind, CAI plans to support 10 accelerated learning classes in which 300 children will be enrolled. A total of approximately 7,500 children – a majority girls – will benefit from the program in 2023.

These programs are made possible by CAI’s generous donors. We are extremely grateful for their dedicated commitment to the people of Afghanistan, especially Afghan women and girls, at their time of greatest needs.


Seven-year-old Parisa lives in a small village in Khash District in Badakhshan. Last year she completed first grade at a community-based school established with the support of Central Asia Institute. In January, she was excited to be starting Grade 2. Parisa is learning to read and write with confidence, as well as solve basic math problems. She also loves to draw beautiful pictures. Though Parisa suffers from epilepsy, she is determined not to let it hold her back. When her teacher recently asked, “What do you want to be in the future?”, Parisa enthusiastically replied, “I want to be a doctor!”

Programs in Action



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