Pherali, T. and Sahar, A. (2018). Learning in the chaos: A political economy analysis of education in Afghanistan. Research in Comparative and International Education, 13 (2), 239-258.


Afghanistan is often characterised as a ‘failed’ or ‘fragile’ state in terms of state ‘functionality’, lacking in capacity to provide security and wellbeing to its citizens and failing to prevent violent conflict and terrorism. Since 2001, education has become a major victim of Afghanistan’s protracted crisis that involves international military interventions, fragile democracy and growing radicalisation. Drawing upon qualitative interviews with educational officials and practitioners in Afghanistan and critically examining the literature in education and conflict, we argue that Afghanistan’s education is caught in the nexus between deteriorating security conditions, weak governance and widespread corruption, resulting in rebel capture of educational spaces for radicalisation and violent extremism. More broadly, we contend that education faces the risk of capture for radicalisation in contexts where state fragility and fundamentalism intersect. Finally, we highlight some critical issues relating to educational programming in conflict-affected contexts.