Afghanistan has gone through a 40-year period of war. Known to history as the country that brought about the end of empires, Afghanistan recently overcame Soviet and American invasions. With the chaotic US withdrawal, the Washington-backed Afghan government immediately collapsed. The Taliban, who dominated the countryside, returned to power 20 years after they were ousted by the United States
When I had the opportunity to visit Afghanistan with the head of Turkish Maarif Foundation (TMV), I was happy not only to review the TMV school in the country, but also to assess the current political situation in the country and the relations between Turkey and Afghanistan. As someone who closely follows international developments and writes articles on Turkish foreign policy, I think it is difficult, if not impossible, to analyze a country without setting foot there.
With regard to public security, I have observed that the Taliban have been largely successful in maintaining national security. There are strict security checks on the roads and checkpoints on every corner of the capital Kabul.
Yet providing education, health services and economic opportunity remains the greatest challenge for the Taliban. The Afghan economy is highly dependent on aid from foreign countries and the recognition of Afghanistan as an independent state is crucial for the recovery of its economy. In this regard, Turkey’s TOBB University is currently conducting research on priorities in Afghanistan on behalf of the United Nations.
In particular, the education of Afghan girls under the Taliban regime is a serious concern for the international community. Although Afghan girls have access to university education in separate classes from those of Afghan boys, the issue of primary and secondary education remains unresolved. To deal with pressing problems in education, health and economy, the Taliban government must adopt a rational attitude.
education at the center
In this dire situation, the TMV, as a non-profit public education foundation, has played a vital role in Afghanistan. Along with the Ministry of Education, it is the only entity in Turkey authorized to provide educational services abroad. Especially in the past five years, its activities and influence have spread across continents thanks to Turkey’s rise as an international player.
Since Afghanistan’s educational infrastructure has been devastated during the long period of wars and military invasions, TMV provides essential educational services to Afghan children from kindergarten through higher education. Currently, Afghan TMV schools have more than 20 educational centers. During an iftar (meal for breaking the fast during the holy month of Ramadan) organized by the foundation, the Afghan Minister of Education expressed his gratitude to Turkey for the services rendered by Maarif schools to Afghan children.
When the Taliban returned to power, TMV administrators did not leave the country, demonstrating their determination to provide educational services to Afghan children. Among teachers at TMV schools, this determination has been hailed as a heroic act. Thanks to scholarships granted by Turkey, which began under the presidency of Turgut Özal, dozens of Afghan teachers have learned Turkish and gained Turkish experience in the field of education.
During this transition period, Turkey is one of the few countries to have kept its embassy open in Afghanistan. Represented by an experienced and visionary ambassador, Turkey has played a key role in the country’s recovery. Although public security issues have largely been resolved, international recognition, economic improvement, bureaucratic restructuring, and improved education and health services are some of Afghanistan’s main challenges. I believe that healthy and constructive relations between Turkey and Afghanistan will help the Afghan people to solve these problems and contribute to regional peace and prosperity.