Cooperation with Afghanistan in the sphere of education and culture

All in all, the German Government has made available around 130 million euros for culture and education since 2002. A large share of the funding has been allocated to schools and higher education. In addition, outstanding projects aimed at preserving Afghanistan’s cultural heritage are being financed.

Schools, universities and vocational training

Considerable efforts have been undertaken for more than ten years now to develop the education sector. In 2012, a total of around 100 primary and secondary schools received funding from the Federal Foreign Office’s Stability Pact for Afghanistan.

Progress has been particularly visible in the school sector: the number of pupils has increased fivefold to about 7.2 million (2010) since the fall of the Taliban. Today roughly two-thirds of all boys and half of all girls in Afghanistan attend school.

The Federal Foreign Office is lending special support to three secondary schools in Kabul (Amani secondary school for boys, Durani grammar school for girls and the Jamhuriat commercial high school for girls) by providing funding and German teachers. Alongside four others, these schools are taking part in the worldwide Schools: Partners for the Future (PASCH) initiative.

German lessons at Afghan schools, universities and in the vocational sphere have a long tradition and have received substantial funding through a wide variety of Goethe-Institut projects and the German Academic Exchange Service’s lector programme since 2002.

Afghanistan’s academic reconstruction is being promoted by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office. Since 2005, the DAAD has had a liaison office within the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education. In addition to numerous scholarships for Afghan students and lecturers, some universities in Germany have bilateral cooperation agreements with Afghan universities. Other measures include summer and winter academies of several weeks’ duration in Germany, further training for lecturers in Afghanistan and donations in kind. Furthermore, short and long-term lecturers were seconded. An IT data processing centre was established at the University of Kabul with German assistance.

In 2011, the development of a public administration bachelor’s course was begun at the Balkh School of Public Administration and other universities. The aim of the course is to improve the quality of public administration and to increase the population’s satisfaction with the government. In addition, extensive further training measures for members of the public service are being carried out.


Wars and the Taliban years had a devastating impact on Afghanistan’s cultural scene. A wide variety of endeavours are being undertaken to counter this.

In addition to language courses and further training for Afghan German teachers, the Goethe-Institut in Kabul, which was opened in 2003, organizes cultural events and workshops in the spheres of film, art and music. The major festivals initiated by the Goethe-Institut, the National Theatre Festival, the National Literature Forum and the International Documentary and Short Film Festival, have “created unique platforms for exchange among culture professionals from all over Afghanistan and are now an integral part of the Afghan cultural scene” (Goethe-Institut statement).

An educational photo exhibition entitled “Towers of Knowledge” aimed at strengthening Afghanistan’s national identity and at consolidating the traditional friendship with the German-speaking world was opened in Kabul on 14 July 2010. The historical photographs, which describe the period from 1748 to 1973 and the reconstruction of the last few years, were exhibited in all 34 provinces. As well as conveying facts, the idea was to build up a positive national identity, especially among the young generation which only know their country as one blighted by chaos.

The Federal Foreign Office also provided funding for the re-opening of Kabul’s first music school on 20 June 2010. For years there has been almost nothing in the way of music education in Afghanistan. With the opening of the Afghan National Institute of Music (ANIM), however, things have now changed for the better.

Finally, the Federal Foreign Office supports initiatives whose aim is to make Afghan culture known in Germany. The exhibition “Afghanistan. Surviving Treasures”, for example, was opened by Minister of State Pieper in the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn on 10 June 2010 and attracted more than 70,000 visitors.

Within the scope of the Safar project, master Afghan musicians toured Germany, where they met up with German musicians. This project not only made a contribution towards preserving the country’s cultural heritage but also made possible a cultural dialogue among equals from which both side could learn and which they can share with the audience. dOCUMENTA 13, whose theme was Collapse and Reconstruction, also focused on contemporary art and culture in Afghanistan and works by Afghan artists were on display in Kassel. The aim of the project was to make it possible to engage in exchanges and make contacts as well as to illustrate the role of art in the reconstruction of a destroyed society.

Preservation of cultural heritage

Conserving and maintaining Afghanistan’s cultural monuments plays an important role in strengthening national identity and building a civil society. With funding totalling around 6.7 million euros between 2000 and 2012, Afghanistan is Germany’s most important partner when it comes to cultural preservation measures.

The funds have so far facilitated the promotion of 78 individual projects – ranging from restoration work and small donations in kind to complex projects where funding and implementation take place in individual stages over several years. For example:

  • Restoration of the Babur Gardens (Bagh-e Babur) in Kabul in cooperation with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture,
  • Projects carried out in Herat by the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin with the aim of researching the old city and establishing the National Museum and Manuscript Archive,
  • Measures to safeguard the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 in cooperation with the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in Munich,
  • Work on the historic Kuti-e-Bagthsha garden pavilion next to the Presidential Palace with its wonderful painted walls and ceilings,
  • Stabilization and restoration of the 15th century Khwaja Parsa shrine. The shrine is one of the most important monuments still standing in Balkh old town in the province of the same name.

Within the framework of the colloquium “Cultural Heritage and Archaeology in Afghanistan – Current Projects” held in November 2012, the diverse projects and measures were presented to a broad public together with an exhibition. The event was opened by the Afghan Deputy Education Minister Khalili as part of the project.

UNESCO award for the restoration of Herat’s historic centre

UNESCO bestowed its Award of Excellence on the reconstruction of Herat’s old city. The German Government is helping the Aga Khan Foundation to carry out this pioneering project.

Last updated 25.01.2013


Publications on the subject

Education is the Future -Rebuilding Higher Education in Afghanistan


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