The Taliban hasn’t been paying teachers in Afghanistan. Now UNICEF is stepping in to make sure Afghan children don’t lose all access to education.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last August, international trade and banking sanctions against the new government, and abrupt withdrawals of foreign aid have all pitched the country into a free-fall of economic crisis. And just one casualty of the chaos has been teachers. Every female teacher in the country lost their job under Taliban law, which does not allow women to work outside the home at all, and the male teachers have not been paid in months by the new, disorganized government. With more than half their teaching force confined to homes and the rest unpaid and forced to seek other work, students are missing important months of class-time. And that’s without accounting for the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic.

That all children have a right to education is a core tenant of UNICEF, also known as the United Nations Children’s Fund. Research done by the organization has shown over and over again that education disrupted by war or disaster imposes lifelong, even generational disadvantages on a society. On a global average, their studies say, a child who misses six consecutive months of school between the ages of 9 and 16 has less than a 20 percent chance of ever continuing their education. This is particularly true when the causes of the missed school are linked to poverty – children who begin working to contribute to their family needs almost never return to school, especially girls.

(Their data has more to do with the developing world, where school attendance is often not mandated by law.)

To help prevent this educational cliff, UNICEF has announced that they will pay teachers in Afghanistan for at least two months, hopefully longer if it is still needed. The stipend of approximately 100USD per month will be funded by a grant from the European Union and will support nearly 200,000 primary and secondary school teachers for January and February.

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