Building Trust and Institutions - Religious Institution-Building in Afghanistan: An Exploration

PRIO Policy Brief

Tariq, Mohammed Osman; Kaja Borchgrevink & Kristian Berg Harpviken (2011) Building Trust and Institutions - Religious Institution-Building in Afghanistan: An Exploration, PRIO Policy Brief, 2. Oslo: PRIO.

Afghanistan’s religious schools – the madrasas – are frequently accused by Afghan and foreign media and policy analysts of providing outdated and poor-quality religious schooling, educating children to unemployment, promoting narrow and intolerant worldviews, and ultimately contributing to radicalization and recruitment to militant groups. In response to criticism that it lacks control over the madrasas and what they teach, the Afghan government has initiated a comprehensive reform programme. This, however, has had limited success so far. Few madrasas have registered with the government, and the new curriculum has been rejected by madrasa representatives. Yet, both the madrasas and the government want change and agree on the need for reform. What, then, can be done to improve collaboration between the government and the madrasa sector? Can new institutions facilitate reform? What shape should such institutions take, and how might the reform process move forward? In this policy brief, we present the outcome of a series of consultations with madrasa representatives.