Friday, June 25, 2010

EDUCATION ... an indispensable part of development&prosperity

Hello everybody,

I just came across this article and and it makes me furious to read about radicals who forbid girls to go to school!!!

Secret girls schools emerge in Afghanistan

By Matthew Green and Kate Holt in Kandahar
Published: June 25 2010 08:24 | Last updated: June 25 2010 08:24

Hidden in the maze of mud-walled alleys in the Loy Wiyala district of Kandahar, Amina, 16, is taking her first, secretive steps towards becoming a teacher.
Banned by her father Abdul from making the short walk to school, she uses a clandestine classroom to impart her smattering of knowledge to younger sisters poring over textbooks scattered across a rug.

This is not a tale of a conservative parent depriving his daughter of an education, but an Afghan family braving the risk of Taliban violence to give their girls the chance to learn.
Abdul is one of a number of anxious fathers who have set up underground schools to allow his daughters to continue studying in defiance of an escalating campaign of insurgent attacks designed to thwart a major Nato operation to secure the city.
“I went to school in Kandahar city for a while, but now we are too scared,” said Amina. “I think it is important that we all learn as much as we can at home until the situation for us improves. I want to be a teacher one day and go to teacher training college.”
Gains in promoting female education, which was banned under the Taliban, have often been cited by Western politicians seeking to buoy support for the nine-year war among increasingly sceptical publics. But some of the initial progress has been eroded by a surge in violence, particularly in the south.
Audio slideshow: Kandahar’s secret schools
Hear photographer Kate Holt’s account of how some Afghan families are protecting their daughters from insurgent attacks by setting up secret schools in their homes
Mr Abdul’s decision was a particularly brave one. The run-down Loy Wiyala neighbourhood is dotted with safe houses used by Taliban insurgents infiltrating the city from the nearby Arghandab District to stage suicide bombings. Haji Abdul Jabar, Arghandab’s governor, was killed in Kandahar this month in a remote-controlled bomb attack.
Officials in Kandahar say the number of families setting up home classrooms for girls in their extended families has grown with the level of violence, though it is impossible to obtain figures.
Girls are especially vulnerable to intimidation in southern Afghanistan, where insurgents have appealed to a conservative streak in the ethnic Pashtun community to advance their hard-line Islamist agenda. Teachers say several girls have been maimed in recent years by unknown attackers flinging acid in their faces.

“I stopped my daughters going to school because I was scared somebody would come and kill them,” Mr Abdul said. “Sometimes the threat comes from the Taliban, sometimes from kidnappers. There is no security.”
Men like Mr Abdul represent precisely the kind of progressive constituency that the US is aiming to rally in its campaign to turn a deeply ambivalent population away from the Taliban in Kandahar, the movement’s former capital and spiritual home.
Yet the fear pervading the streets shows how difficult it will be to convince people to place their faith in often ineffective Afghan security forces and a provincial administration hobbled by entrenched corruption and a chronic lack of capacity.
Although girls in white headscarves still throng institutions such as the Mirwais Mena Girls High School in the city, officials say growing numbers are staying at home due to intimidation and the threat of suicide bombings.

”Many people in Kandahar are now too scared to send their daughters to school,” said Rana Tarin, head of the women’s affairs department in the province.
According to official data, enrolment in state schools in Afghanistan increased to about 6m by the end of 2008, from 900,000 in 2001. Even though the Taliban banned education for girls, almost 20,000 girls are now enrolled in schools in Kandahar province – mostly in the city – compared to nearly 59,000 boys, according to Unicef.
But arson, rocket attacks and cases of schoolgirls being murdered on their way home have hit education in many areas. Unicef says an estimated 50-80 per cent of schools in southern Afghanistan have closed in the past two years.

An 18-year-old woman who teaches at an underground school for six girls in Kandahar city said her father, a teacher from eastern Afghanistan, was determined she attend class.
“My father told me that if I am too scared to go to school that I shouldn’t come home again. He believes that there is nothing that should stop me from having an education,” she said. “Everyone here is scared. Things have got much worse recently because nobody is sure who is in control.”

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