Higher education in Afghanistan began with the establishment of Kabul University in 1932.
Ever since tribal leaders united to form Afghanistan in 1747, this mountainous country in Central Asia has been fought over by outside powers. In the 19th century it was pivotal in the Great Game played out by the British and Russian Empires, which coveted the territory strategically located between the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, and along the ancient Silk Route used by traders. In 1919 Afghanistan won independence from notional British control. In the 1970s it experienced two coups and invasion by the USSR. In 1989 Soviet troops withdrew, clearing the way for the ascendancy of the Taliban, which were chased from power in 2001 by the United States after sheltering Osama Bin Laden, who claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. In 2004 Afghan voters chose their first democratically elected president.
This landlocked country, a little larger than France, is bordered by Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan on the north, Pakistan on the east and south, and Iran on the west.
In the extreme east it has a very short boundary with China in the high Pamir Mountains. Much of the country is mountainous; the highest peaks in the Pamirs and Hindu Kush rise to over 6,600 m/20,000 ft.
The lowest parts of the country are in the southwest along the Iranian border and in the north along the border with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Afghanistan has a harsh climate of the continental type and the severity of winter is accentuated by the altitude of much of the country. Summers everywhere are warm, except in the highest areas. At lower levels temperatures sometimes rise very high indeed.
Winter and spring are the seasons of most changeable weather and most of the annual precipitation occurs at this time.
Afghanistan is the most easterly country to experience the influence of the Mediterranean Sea, which is the source of most of the depressions that bring the winter precipitation. The high mountains to the south shield Afghanistan from the summer rains brought to India and parts of Pakistan by the southwest monsoon.
Almost no rain falls from June to October. The lower parts of the country have a semi-arid or desert climate. In Sestina along the Iranian border hot, dry, dusty winds are among the most unpleasant features of the summer weather.
The table for Kabul represents the climatic conditions over most of the country, particularly those in the mountainous centre and east. The table for Kandahar is representative of the lower and drier parts of the country. Here winters are milder but there may be spells of very cold weather for a few days at a time.
Summers are sunny and generally hot, except in the higher mountains. Sunshine amounts range from six to seven hours a day in winter to as much as twelve to thirteen in summer.
Because of the large range of temperature conditions found in Afghanistan, there is both a danger of heat exhaustion or even heatstroke in the lower regions in summer and of exposure, wind chill, and frostbite in the mountains in winter.
$11,709,000,000 (2008 est)
Overview of Higher Education
Higher education in Afghanistan began with the establishment of Kabul University in 1932. By the 1970s, however, teaching at institutions of higher learning was disrupted by civil war and the flight of qualified instructors from the country. Whereas six institutions reported enrollment of 17,000 students in the early 1990s, the number had fallen drastically by the end of the decade, after the Taliban banned women from obtaining higher degrees. However, once the Taliban were ousted from power, Kabul University reopened – for both men and women.
Some 35,000 students were enrolled in 19 universities nationwide in 2005. No Afghan universities were providing postgraduate instruction as of 2009.
(Sources: BBC, The Europa World of Learning)
Number of Colleges, Universities, Technical Institutes
Number of Colleges, Universities, and Technical Institutes (total): 38
Number of Higher Education Students
Number of students enrolled: 50,000 (est)
Ministry of Higher Education
Web site: http://www.mohe.gov.af/?lang=en