05/29/2019, 14.36
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Attacks on Afghan schools triple; without culture there is no democracy, says Fr Moretti

At least 3.7 million school-age children do not attend classes. In 2018, over a thousand schools were closed. A whole generation is at risk and girls are the most disadvantaged. For Italian priest, if children are prevented from going to school, culture will be nipped in the bud.

Kabul (AsiaNews) – The number of attacks on Afghan schools nearly tripled last year, up from 68 in 2017 to 192 in 2018, the UNICEF reported on Tuesday. For Fr Giuseppe Moretti, chaplain at the Italian embassy and head of the missio sui iuris of Afghanistan until 2015, this is how a culture is nipped in the bud.

The UNICEF report highlights the difficulties in accessing education in a country ravaged by 18 years of war. At the end of 2018, the agency said that more than a thousand schools were closed as result of the violence, depriving some 500,000 children of their right to education.

According to the UN agency, at least 3.7 million children between the ages of 7 and 17 (half the total number of school-aged children) do not attend classes.

An entire generation is at risk of illiteracy from the lack of teachers, often injured or killed in attacks, as well as their inadequate training (only 48 pe cent have a degree equivalent to a bachelor's degree).

Girls are the most disadvantaged group with about 60 pe cent not going to school. Their limited access to education is a legacy of the severe gender discrimination that existed under the Taliban (1996-2001). The latter marginalised them as "suitable" only for the home, not study. The limited number of female teachers has made matters even worse.

The Italian priest is critical of "the presence of Western powers in Afghanistan since 2001, who should have built what that make people move towards democracy, first of all schools and hospitals.”

“Western powers should also have spoken out more on girls' education: women's equality is not about women priests." Today, "the commitment must be to rebuild the schools, but as long as there is no peace, it will be very difficult".

According to Fr Moretti, "without culture there is no democracy, we are all sheep. If people want to study and the government does not allow it, it means the powerful just keep people subjugated.”

"Schooling is fundamental to build democracy. A responsible ruling class with crucial plans to lay the foundations of democracy is missing.”

"If culture is nipped in the bud by preventing children to go to school, the bud will never flower, and become full blown."

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