First and foremost, SPARK is concerned that the country could slide into civil war with additional human suffering as a result. In the medium to long term SPARK is concerned that progress that was made in the field of (higher) education and economic development will be lost, with detrimental consequences for its youth.
Moreover, the progress that was made in the area of women education is at risk. Over the last 20 years, gender equity in education has been one of the strongest areas of progression in the country, with girls accounting for 39% of Afghanistan’s estimated 9.5 million students last year. We fear that this progress may now be in jeopardy.
SPARK’s efforts to support the development of youth in Afghanistan over the past 7 years have been marred by difficulty due to the challenging political and economic situation. However, Afghans remain a strong, entrepreneurial people with much to give. Between 2014-2017 we were able to support the creation of jobs by 14 Dutch/Afghan diaspora entrepreneurs, through a Migrant Entrepreneurship Programme. We also supported the growth of one SME, a dairy farm, who received training, coaching and eventually acquired a loan. Recently, SPARK had been conducting a feasibility study into opening a Business Support Centre in Kabul due to the lack of incubation services available to entrepreneurs in the capital. In the decade before 2014, SPARK had been working on higher education reform programmes with, inter alia, the University of Kabul.
We hope sincerely to be able to continue our work with young, ambitious Afghan people one day. Our thoughts are with the talented and driven young people of Afghanistan at this extremely difficult time.