By: Suraya Raiszada
Attacks on schools in Afghanistan increased almost three fold last year, making it increasingly difficult to ensure an education for children in many parts of the country, the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said in a new report released recently.
The agency, which promotes education and children’s rights, said the number of attacks against schools in Afghanistan jumped from 68 in 2017 to over 190 last year. It was the first time since 2015 that a rise in attacks had been recorded.
“Education is under fire in Afghanistan,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “The senseless attacks on schools; the killing, injury and abduction of teachers; and the threats against education are destroying the hopes and dreams of an entire generation of children.”
More than 1,000 schools across the country are closed because of security threats from groups such as the Taliban and Islamic State, which have sought soft targets for attacks aimed at extending and consolidating their influence through intimidation.
UNICEF said the use of school buildings as voter centers during last year’s parliamentary election may have been a factor behind the rise in attacks. Afghanistan has a young and fast-growing population but about 3.7 million children, or nearly half of all school-age children, are not in formal education, UNICEF said.
Expressing concern over increasing attacks on schools, the ministry of education stressed that education sector should not be used for holding upcoming presidential elections.
The ministry’s spokesperson Nooria Nehzat says that the ministry of education is talking with the presidential office so the country’s schools not to be used for upcoming elections.
She added usage of schools for elections had cost a lot for the country’s education sector last year.
A number of experts and political elites say that schools are public places and should not be used for political issues.
This is a clear fact that everyone has the right to educate, therefore, children should not be deprived from this wealth, a university lecturer Aminzoy said.
Another political expert Jawid Kohistani believes that using public places doesn’t have room in any law, but unfortunately, schools are used as a headquarter in Afghanistan.
He stressed that government’s armed insurgents should know that schools are the places where the children get educated, thus, they should stop attacking on them.
Afghans ask security entities to make effort and ensure security of schools across the country so their children can get educated in a calm atmosphere.
The UNICEF report regarding increasing of attacks on schools comes at a time when a large number of schools are still remained closed in southern and western parts of the country.
For example, dozens of schools remained closed in Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and Farah provinces due to increasing of insecurities.