The process of democratization is always a long one, and usually painful. No other country knows that better than Afghanistan. Torn apart by war, Afghanistan is struggling to find a way to normalize society again. One of the most important ways to do this is to focus on education. Abdullah Gül, president of Turkey, has pledged to help Afghanistan do exactly that.
Turkey is one of the few truly democratic nations in the region, and has found a way to reconcile a majority Muslim population with a secular government. Their schools incorporate Islam and also boast a very high population of educated women. Because Afghanistan wants to continue to incorporate religion into everyday life, including education, they will adopt Turkey’s model of 40% Islamic teaching and 60% normal curriculum. This system is called imam-hatip and has been extremely successful in Turkey. Six schools have opened already and 62 more are to be opened in the spring. The proposal also includes funding by Turkey for more scholarships for Afghan students to study in Turkish Universities.
Barakat recognizes the effectiveness of respecting culture and religion, and therefore incorporates Islam into their programs as well. Curriculums for the Besh Kapa School, the Mullah Kareem Nazar School, and the home-based literacy courses for girls and women, all include an Islamiyat course, the study of Islam. This is comforting for parents of young girls that are hesitant to send their daughters to school. Thanks to Turkey, hopefully children in other parts of Afghanistan will soon strive in this learning environment too.