To support and promote institutional reforms and regulatory oversight of the madrassa system in Afghanistan. The project seeks to lay the foundation for madrassa reforms in Afghanistan through a multi-layered approach that involves comprehensive desk and field research, expert consultations, and mapping and developing a database for registered and unregistered madrassas across the country.
In the aftermath of 9/11, madrasas have become a subject of considerable controversy. Pakistani, as well as the Afghan madrasas with funding from the neighboring and regional countries, continue to be blamed for the recruitment and radicalization of Afghan youths to militant and violent extremist groups feeding into the more extensive terrorism system. The Afghan and Pakistani Islamic education systems are interlinked and affect each other directly. As an example, it became evident that the enrolment in madrasas in Pakistan increased during the times of the Afghan war, the resistance against the Soviet invasion, and during the rise of the Taliban. Islamic schools and students, especially in the Pashtun belt along with the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan, are principal recruitment grounds for Taliban insurgents. Partly, this can also be seen due to the high number of Pashtuns who share a common culture and border in these areas.
Furthermore, many Afghan families send their children to Pakistani madrasas for several reasons such as poverty – madrasas which feed and host students are often the only option for families to provide their children with education and support – or prestigious purposes such as sending their children to Islamic schools operated by well-respected Islamic scholars. However, the nature and especially the curriculum of Pakistani madrasas are criticized, and many voices claim that students who are taught in these Islamic schools are being radicalized and militarized as it is the case with most Taliban fighters who have been educated in Islamic education facilities in Pakistan. Madrasas also continue to be criticized on the national and international levels for their outdated educational system and their alleged links with the militants.
This project pursued following main objectives;
- To support and promote institutional reforms and regulatory oversight of the madrassa system in Afghanistan.
Establishing contacts with the representatives of the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs, the Ulema Council, the Department of Islamic Education of the Ministries of Education and Higher Education, representatives of provincial delegations of all the above-mentioned ministries, religious scholars and community leaders.
Developing a database of unregistered and registered madrasas across all target regional centers. This will be conducted with the help of the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education as well as through the support of community shuras and religious scholars at the regional level. Individual interviews with Ulema, Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs and community shuras on the regional level
Collecting best practices from Muslim countries with similar issues such as Pakistan and Bangladesh to learn from their madrasa regulatory reforms. This will be done through online expert discussion forums from these countries to present their experiences to the working group. A visit by two prominent scholars will supplement this process. These scholars will engage with the local stakeholders, including the government representatives. This activity will result in a comprehensive report outlining the findings, statistics, and best practices from other countries in the region as well as their recommendations for the reform process.
Advocacy Campaign, including public awareness-raising through Radio PSAs, billboards, TV spots issued by SALAH and supported by the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs and Ministry of Education. Series of roundtable/ focus group discussions in 6 regional capitals, including the capital Kabul, led by the technical working group with the support of national and international consultants on the curriculum of madaris and the nature of the regulatory mechanism (i.e., Afghan Madrasa Education Body and a Curriculum Reviewing Body). Developing draft curricula for madaris Preparing a draft regulatory mechanism. Capacity Building Training for identified madrasa teachers in cooperation with IAIS. Initiating a Madrasa Regulatory Act within the Afghan Parliament, which will result in establishing a state-led regulatory system for madaris both for boys and girls across the country and applicable to all 34 provinces.
- By conducting a regional research and mapping TLO develop a comprehensive knowledge of the number and presence of madrassas across a feasible number of Afghan provinces. This will be followed by developing a database of the madrasas existing in the target provinces. As the program scope expands, so will the scope of this database.
- TLO create an understanding of the dynamics, the functioning and motivations of madrasas in Afghanistan through a preliminary research and mapping of the registered and unregistered madrassas across the target provinces.
- To understand the motives of the local communities in sustaining these institutions, and as well as why would the families chose to send their children to madrasas outside Afghanistan.
- To understand the impact of madrasa education on the local communities both in favorable terms and also issues madrasa exposure can lead to, including youth radicalization and promulgation of conflict in the communities.
- To propose engagement options with these madrassas to prevent one of the most critical hurdles for future Afghan peace – preventing insurgents’ recruitment drives through these madrasas, or their return to these madrasas in a post peace settlement scenario.
- To propose frameworks for possible system and curriculum reform of the Afghan madrasas, and partnering with both national and international institutions in delivering this ambitious goal.