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Afghanistan: UNHCR funds Peshawar Afghan University

Briefing notes

Afghanistan: UNHCR funds Peshawar Afghan University

21 March 2000

UNHCR Pakistan Tuesday announced a 5 million rupees ($100,000) special contribution to the new Afghan University in Peshawar - the only institution of its kind for Afghan refugees. The contribution will strengthen the knowledge and skills of the students and create a better environment for learning.

The new Afghan University is a unique initiative run by Afghans for Afghans. It was opened in April 1999 following the merger of five Peshawar-based Afghan colleges, and today has 1,529 students, 953 of which are male, and 576 female (38%). For Afghan refugee women, the University is one of the very few outlets that offer access to post-secondary education in Pakistan.

UNHCR spends more than 40 per cent of its total budget in Pakistan on basic education services. Over the years, it has focused on giving quality primary education with emphasis on increasing female participation. The number of refugee women and girls participating in UNHCR-funded education programmes in Pakistan has grown dramatically over the past few years, suggesting a fundamental change in refugees' attitudes. In 1999, some 116,700 students attended UNHCR-funded schools in the North West Frontier Province, Baluchistan and Punjab provinces, of whom 33 per cent were girls. Overall registration rose by 11 per cent and female enrolment went up by 36 per cent. Other indicators such as attendance, retention and performance also improved considerably during 1999.