Children & Education

Children are the other most marginalize group of society in Afghanistan. There is no doubt that the constant war, insecurity and deprivation of the last twenty five years have taken a heavy toll on the emotional health of Afghans children. Afghans children often ascribe their frequent physical symptoms of sickness to psychological pain. 

child1In many parts of the world, wars, epidemics, and natural disasters have created complex emergencies that lack well-defined endpoints and have a sustained impact on children's development, both in terms of immediate survival as well as long-term recovery. Over the past several decades, the nature of conflict has changed dramatically, increasingly targeting civilians principally women and children. The “front line” during periods of conflict has moved into backyards, main streets, and neighborhoods. In contexts where children’s lives are already threatened by chronic malnutrition and ill health, the eruption of war exacerbates illness, family stresses, poor educational and health services, and crumbling social support systems.

Such conflict often leads children and families to flee dangerous areas and make difficult choices, often without any advance warning or preparation. Children are forced to flee all they know and love, as they see schools, mosques, and entire neighborhoods destroyed. Often, they are separated from parents and families who could help themto understand the upheaval and adapt to new and threatening environments. Even if children are not forced to flee their homes, they still may experience violence, withstand fear and humiliation, and face extreme deprivation. In all of these situations, children’s development is interrupted, security and trust are threatened, and a sense of hope or confidence can be severely affected.

Children who experience armed conflict carry the heavy emotional, social, and spiritual burdens associated with death, separation from and loss of parents, attack and victimization, destruction of homes and communities, sexual assault, economic ruin, and disruption of the normal patterns of living. Psychosocial programs seek to limit these effects on children, prevent further harmful events, and strengthen the coping mechanisms of children, their families, and their communities.

There were several reasons for this emphasis on psychosocial support. First was the extremely weak capacity of the health and mental health services in Afghanistan and the already phenomenal level of demand placed upon them; the FOPD felt that if they could provide alternative non-medical psychosocial support it might relieve some of this pressure. Secondly, it seemed appropriate to develop sustainable projects which would build on and support existing strengths in family and  child2community life rather than relying upon resource intensive medical solutions. The third argument was the belief that recognizing the capacity that had allowed Afghans to confront, bear and survive the past quarter decade of loss and destruction would acknowledge the resilience and coping that already existed in Afghan social life. Building on this would prevent the portrayal of Afghans as in desperate need of specialized medical intervention to the detriment of acknowledging their ability to survive and cope. To meet the aims for community-based psychosocial support, FOPD try to work received grounding in local level consultation, research and project planning. In additional, the term “psychosocial” has been developed to encompass the complex nature of child development, building upon the close interplay of the psychological and social aspects of cognitive and emotional growth. Children’s psychological development includes the capacity to perceive, analyze, learn, and experience emotion. Social development includes the ability to form attachments to caregiver sand peers, maintain social relationships, and learn the social codes of behavior of one’s own culture. Psychosocial programming, therefore, recognizes that there is an ongoing connection between a child’s feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and the development of the child as a social being within his or her social environment. Children’s reactions to extreme events will vary according to individual characteristics and
environmental factors.

Psychosocial programs support the child’s cognitive, emotional, and social development holistically, and strengthen the child’s social support systems. Emphasis is placed on strengthening social environments that nurture children's healthy psychosocial development at various levels, with the family, community, and children themselves. At all levels, psychosocial programming must keep in mind the best interests of the child.