03/03/2008, 00.00
AFGHANISTAN
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The challenge of educating against Taliban terrorism

Schools re-open for 6.5 million children. In the absence of classrooms, materials and teachers, the Taliban burn schools and kill teachers in their attempt to prevent a better future.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – On March 23 9 thousand Afghan schools will re-open for a record 6.5 million children. 35% are girls, who the Taliban regime refused access to education until its fall from power in 2001.

Zuhur Afghan, an Education ministry spokesman, explained on Radio Free Europe that the main problem is security for both students and teachers.  In recent years the Taliban have increased their attacks on defenceless civilian targets_ according to official data, at least 230 workers from the education sector have been killed and over 220, including students and teachers, injured.  Many schools have been burned leaving 300 thousand students without classrooms, particularly in the south.

The Ministry for Education aims to build 30 new schools at least one teacher training college, in each of the 29 provinces.  The United Nations foundation for children has asked donors for 15 million dollars to fund these schools, but they really need at least 3 billion over the next 5 years.

Zuhur Afghan explains that “"Sixty percent of our schools do not have a building; lessons take place in mosques, tents or simply under trees. Many schools lack desks, blackboards, and chalk. Many of our schools do not have water and sanitation facilities, such as bathrooms”. Often ordinary people bring bricks and materials, others offer to lend a hand in manual labour, and in weeks teachers and parents together, build new classes.

Another problem are the teachers who are reluctant to go to remote villages.  Many parents too refuse to send their children to school without a male teacher.  The Ministry offers three times the normal salary to women teachers who accept a post in rural villages and even work for their husbands, or a male relative who accompanies them.

 

 

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