BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Brussels hosted a ceremony on Tuesday (November 12) to launch an educational programme for Afghan women at universities in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Kazinform reported.
The European Union (EU) allocated €2 million in July for a joint project with the United Nations (UN). It will enable 50 Afghan women to attend universities in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko, diplomats from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, EU and UN officials, journalists and area specialists attended the event.
In 2010, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Kazakh president at the time, "initiated a programme for educating 1,000 Afghans at a cost of $50 million", said Vassilenko at the ceremony.
He noted the success of that first effort: "100% of the Afghans returned to their country after their education ... 75% were hired immediately after returning home. The European side [EU] expressed interest in our experience and supported this idea."
Kazakhstan has spent more than $80 million so far in aiding Afghanistan, including $3.5 million to build medical centres and schools and to rebuild roads and bridges, according to Kazinform.
The Kazakh universities that will educate the incoming Afghan women include Satbayev University, Kazakh-British Technical University, Saken Seifullin Kazakh Agro-Technical University and Almaty Management University. Instruction will be in English.
Kazinform did not list the Uzbek participants. However, since January 2018, the Termez Centre for Education in Afghanistan has been operating in Termez, Uzbekistan, near the border with Afghanistan, offering Afghan students higher and secondary specialised education in 17 areas, including the Uzbek and English languages, physics and chemistry.
Afghan women suffer from a severe gender gap. Only 11% of Afghan women are high school graduates and only 19.5% of women work outside the home, according to the UN Development Programme. The male statistics are 37% and 87%, respectively. In 2016-2017, more than half of the Afghan population lived below the poverty line.