In 2001, the Taliban were ousted from control of Afghanistan and, although the country is still suffering from a war that has raged for 11 years, there have been significant improvements in the lives of citizens. Things that are taken for granted in the United States, such as education, are now becoming standard in the war-torn country. From a country where access to the outside world was severely restricted to the implementation of Afghan Wireless, there have been many improvements that some outside the country may not realize have occurred.
In 2001, only 21 percent of Afghan children attended school and none of them were girls. By 2012, 97 percent of children were enrolled in school, including almost three million girls. However, schools are still operated in tents, homes and sometimes outside under trees. In addition, only 52 percent of teachers meet minimum standards with those who do not meet standards provided only in-service training. The dropout rate for girls is still high and only 39 percent of adults over 15 can read or write.
Under the Taliban, women were forbidden from attending school or working. Today, 36 percent of women attend school, although most do not complete secondary school and 52 percent of them are married by the age of 20. It is estimated that 22 percent of women aged 15 to 24 in the country are illiterate. However, more than 25 percent of the Afghan parliament and government employees are now women. It is estimated that if the current governmental female hiring rate continues, 40 percent of governmental employees could be women by 2020. Violence against women in the country still appears to be a problem and a new trend against women is the prevention of them taking part in social activities.
One of the biggest improvements in Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban has been in the health system. Life expectancy increased from 56 to 60 years. In addition, the death rate of children under the age of five went from 176 in 1,000 in 1990 to 98.5 per 1,000 in 2012. Vaccination campaigns have helped reduce the incidence of polio where the disease is still rampant. In 2012, there were 37 cases of polio reported while in 2013, only 14 were reported. Access to better drinking water and sanitation have also helped improve the health of many Afghan citizens.
Improvements in Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban have been significant, but there are still areas that need changes. Farmers in the country are reluctant to stop producing opium and the country produces 90 percent of the world’s supply. The high price of opium makes it difficult to convince farmers to grow other crops and many say that promises of different seeds to encourage them to grow other items have not been kept. In addition, poverty is still a big problem in the country with 39 percent unable to access clean water, 70 percent without power and only 28 percent of households having a toilet. However, almost six million refugees have been able to return to their native country and are seeing significant improvements in many areas of their country.