Coming of Age in the Shadow of the Taliban: Education, Child Marriage, and the Future of Afghanistan From the Perspectives of Adolescents and Their Parents

Robert Wm Blum, Mengmeng Li, Omrana Pasha, Chandra Rao, Kayhan Natiq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To understand adolescent and parental attitudes toward education, child marriage, and the changes in matriculation for boys and girls over one generation. Methods: Two-staged household sampling method was used in six provinces with low educational enrollment in Afghanistan during 2016. Final sample included 910 adolescents aged 12–15 years and 454 parents. Data analysis included k-Nearest Neighbour imputation for missing values. Response percentages were compared by two-tail proportional z-test for two-sample comparison or Chi-squared test for multiple groups comparison with adjusted p values. Results: Adolescents reported highly valuing education but considered boys to be greater beneficiaries than girls. Over 90% of parents concur expecting their children to complete at least secondary education independent of the child's sex with more than a third (37.89%) indicating that marriage should be postponed until at least high school completion. Likewise, both boys and girls believe marriage of girls under age 18-years limits future educational opportunities as well as increases risks of domestic violence and loss of freedom. Whereas a generation ago four-out-of-five parents of today's adolescents were not in school, today that has reversed; and among 12–15 year olds in the provinces studied, 75% were in school at the time of the survey. Conclusions: In the most disadvantaged provinces of Afghanistan, almost all young adolescents surveyed (98.8%) were not married and the majority were in school while an equal percent of their parents had no formal education. Additionally, both parents report that education of their sons and daughters is highly valued; and, for two-fifths, they believe marriage should occur after completion of secondary school.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-375
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume64
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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