Abdul Nasir Folad, a graduate of a USIP peacebuilding course, leads a peace education workshop in Herat. Folad uses a web of string as a model of communications among groups in a conflict. (Photo: Abdul Nasir Folad)

Afghan Universities Build a Movement Against Extremism

Fifteen years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan’s university student population has ballooned, and its roughly 50 universities form a critical arena in the struggle for the country’s future. Yet Afghan universities have lacked courses or student organizations dedicated to opposing extremist ideas and to building peace across the ethnic, sectarian and other divides exploited by militant groups.

Nomad schools can move along with the Kuchi tribes as they travel to winter and summer grazing lands.

Afghan Kuchi Tribes Thrive With Community Education

Kuchi people are some of the poorest and least represented people in Afghanistan. School isn’t traditionally a part of the nomadic life, so many adults in the tribes are illiterate. However, parents can see the benefits of education and want more than anything for their children to read and write. 

HU-Peace Park opening ceremony 21st of Sep, Peace Int. Day, students, faculties, 10 civil society organizations, government including governor of Herat province. (Photo: USIP)

Peace Education in Afghanistan

Since 2014, USIP has worked with public and private universities as well as the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) to develop a peace and conflict studies curriculum that can be taught by universities across the country. By developing and institutionalizing such education programs, USIP is helping to develop a cadre of conflict resolution experts that will contribute to securing peace in Afghanistan.

Peace Education Curriculum for Afghan students

Help the Afghan Children’s Peace Education Curriculum is the first formal school-based model to specifically target vulnerable middle-school and high-school students, encouraging them to reject violence and all forms of aggressive behavior while embracing the principles of peaceful living, respect for diversity, and cooperation.

Originally introduced in 2003 to three schools, the model has spread to 62 schools in five provinces, impacting over 86,000 boys and girls. Results from these schools over the past three years have shown a dramatic reduction in fighting, consistent improvement in classroom and schoolyard behavior, and similar reductions in teachers’ use of corporal punishment. In 2012, recognizing its potential to impact millions of students, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education endorsed HTAC’s initiative to expand into other regions of the country.