Dana Burde Argues for Community-Based Schools in Afghanistan, in NY Times Op-Ed

Dana Burde, assistant professor of international education in the department of Humanities and Social Sciences, argues for “schooling without schools” in Afghanistan: de-emphasizing expensive new schools (like those in Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea”) in favor of more cost-effective community-based schools housed in mosques or village homes.

In a recent Op-Ed in the New York Times, Burde writes that “while shiny new schools make for great photo ops, they are very expensive and some provide the Taliban with easy targets.”

Community-based schools are formed when aid organizations assist villagers to work together to find a suitable space for classrooms; generally, aid organizations provide materials – government textbooks and supplies—and provide teachers with training. The Afghan government then integrates the schools into the existing educational system.

Burde’s research with Columbia University economist Leigh Linden suggests that children in rural Afghanistan are 50 percent more likely to attend school if there is a community-based school in their village. While not a panacea, Burde writes that community-based education “is a practical medium-term solution to the lack of conventional schools in Afghanistan.”

To read Burde’s New York Times op-ed, click here.

(Pictured above: A village in Ghor Province, Afghanistan, where Burde conducted some of her research.)