New study: Afghanistan’s Dari school books influenced by religious radicalism

A new study has found that Afghanistan’s Dari textbooks being taught at schools are influenced by religious radicalism. “The work on Afghanistan’s education curricula has been widely influenced and weakened by religion and politics,” the study says.

The research paper titled “Education and Politics: The roots of religious radicalism in Afghanistan’s school curricula” has been conducted by Shahir Sirat and was launched in a virtual event on Thursday, July 02 by the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS). It studies and investigates how the “religious radicalism” has influenced Afghanistan’s Farsi-Dari curriculum and explores the relationship between politics, religion, and education in the country through developing a “main hypothesis” and four “sub-hypothesis” in a qualitative method.

The focus of study

The study focus on questions whether materials of religious radicalism exist Dari textbooks. It looks deeper into what the radical religious elements are, how they function, what output such radicalized textbooks may deliver, and what will be the outcomes of politicizing education in Afghanistan? The research has identified more than fifty cases and examples in Dari textbooks which in a way or the other promote religious radicalism and directly indoctrinates school students. “Politics and religion have widely influenced education in Afghanistan which has had a negative impact,” the research notes, identifying more than ten cases with repeated usage in school books that indicate education is “political” in the country.

According to the research, religious radicalism has made its way into social institutions and sub-institutions, particularly educational institutions, through a “special historical process” with the Taliban era shaping the most prominent phase of it.

Preaching a set of belief, training dogmatic students, an educational curriculum inclined to spreading radical religious culture and presence of a conservative educational leadership which hold non-critical view towards education are other findings of the AISS’s study.

It concludes that the educational curricula and its teachings mostly have had an opposite result. “Instead of brining stability and convenience to society, and allowing for constant development by strengthening intellectuality, it has caused more destabilization and has weakened the intellectual community of the country,” the research says.

Mullah Omar: a “Mujahid” and role model for students

The author points out to a specific example of how the Taliban’s founder and leader is described as “Mujahid” in a school textbook published for the sixth grade Afghan students. “In the month of January, Mullah Omar Mujahid, who led the movement of Taliban, came to power and declared the Islamic Emirate. He was ousted from power in October 2008,” an excerpt from the textbook reads. In another textbook being taught to 12 graders of school, the word “Jihad” and “Mujahid” are used and defined as this “anyone who equips and finances a Mujahid in the cause of God has in fact did himself a jihad.”

In subsequent explanation, the author criticizes the “Mujahid” title given to Mullah Mohammad Omar. The group he founded group is still “the most radical and extremist religious” group, according to the author. “In other words, Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, has been called the real role model for mujahideen and the Taliban war as the real jihad,” the author of the study asserts. He further notes that the curricula is encouraging Muslims, particularly the young school students, to support and equip the Mujahideen and that the Mujahideen are entitle to receive zakat.

According to the researcher, to encourage students, indoctrinate them systematically to a radical thought—that potentially may bring radical action—and publicizing the ideology of the Taliban is against all principles of standard education.


For the betterment of the country’s educational curricula, the study has offered the following recommendations: Revision and re-writing of the curriculum, de-politicizing of the curriculum, removal of all radical Islamic teachings, specification of Islamic religious teachings to religious subjects and removing the topic from other textbooks, addition of art and philosophy subjects to the curriculum, and developing teaching methods that can foster creativity and nurture the mind.