Last update: November 2021

This profile refers to people working in educational facilities, including schools and universities. Students could also be affected by association.

See also the section 2.8.5 Education of children and girls in particular.

COI summary

In the context of the conflict, the objective of the insurgents was not to close schools, but rather to put pressure and gain control over them. Taliban leadership regularly issued statements proclaiming a ban on attacks on education. On a local level, depending on the local commander and the population, agreements between insurgents and educational facilities were often made. The Taliban reportedly closed government-sponsored madrassas claiming that they were not in accordance with the Taliban principles. Targeting of individuals due to the mere fact that they worked in educational facilities was not common in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, incidents took place. Attacks on schools and killing, injuring, or abduction of educational personnel and students have been reported. In 2019, UNAMA documented 29 incidents in which AGEs deliberately attacked schools and education personnel, including burning of schools, abduction of teachers, forced closure of schools and direct attacks against students and education personnel. During the first quarter of 2020, the Taliban carried out summary execution and deliberate attacks against education personnel in Afghanistan, according to UNAMA. In these cases, this was related to the local dynamics of the conflict and its specific actors. Violent incidents targeting female teachers and female pupils, including sexual violence and harassment, were also reported [COI query on education sector, 2; Conflict targeting, 1.2.4, 1.5.1, 2.4; Key socio-economic indicators 2020, 2.5].

In 2020, UNAMA documented 62 incidents that affected children’s access to education, comprised of attacks on education facilities, targeting of educational personnel, and threats against education facilities and their staff. Most of the incidents occurred in the eastern, north-eastern, and northern regions. According to UNOCHA, four schools were burnt and 27 were damaged between January and September 2020 [Security June 2021, 1.4.6]. On 2 November 2020, gunmen stormed Kabul University firing on students and teachers and holding several students hostage for hours. The assault, which was ended by a joint operation by the Afghan and US military forces, resulted in the killing of at least 32 civilians and the injuring of dozens more. Although ISKP claimed responsibility for the attack, Afghan government officials blamed the Taliban. In mid-November 2020, ANSF forces reportedly detained the ‘mastermind’ behind the attack, allegedly a former university student before being recruited by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network [Security June 2021, 2.1.3].

During the first half of 2021, UNAMA documented a continuation of attacks on health and education facilities and workers, including direct attacks and fighting causing damage to schools, hospitals, and their personnel [Security September 2021, 1.4.4]. The deadliest attack against civilians in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 was on 8 May 2021, when three non-suicide vehicle-borne IEDs detonated outside a school in a Kabul neighbourhood mainly inhabited by the Hazara community, in which at least 85 civilians were killed and at least 216 other civilians were injured, most of whom were schoolgirls. Reports attribute this attack to ISKP [Security September 2021, 2.1]. Incidents of targeting educational personnel and facilities were also reported in several other provinces in spring and summer 2021, including Ghor, Helmand, Nangarhar, and Takhar [Security September 2021, 2.11, 2.12, 2.23, 2.32].

Risk analysis

Educational personnel could be exposed to acts that are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. kidnapping, killing).

Not all individuals under this profile would face the level of risk required to establish well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: gender (i.e. female teachers), areas where ISKP has operational capacity, the individual or the institution not following Taliban directives and/or curriculum, speaking out against the Taliban, etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that the persecution of this profile is highly likely to be for reasons of (imputed) political opinion. In some cases, religion could also be seen as a relevant ground, such as in the case of individuals persecuted for using a curriculum perceived as contravening the actor’s interpretation of Islam.