Taliban shuts more Afghan schools
BBC News, May 18, 2001
By Afghanistan correspondent Kate Clark
Six schools run by a Turkish Islamic group have been shut down in Afghanistan.
In a country where the state education system is suffering from a chronic lack of resources, the Turkish schools were rare centres of educational excellence.
The group said problems emerged when the Taleban demanded control of their finances.
Some 2,000 pupils attended the six Turkish schools, which were free.
They had a curriculum which was strong in science and languages as well as religion and they were well resourced.
Lack of resources
Almost uniquely in Afghanistan, each school had a laboratory and a library.
A representative for the schools said they had been ready to accept many of the Taleban's demands - that teachers should grow long beards, for example, and pupils wear turbans - but he said they could not agree to hand over their budget to the Taleban.
He said the Taleban had wanted all the Turkish teachers to leave the country, leaving just one official who would hand the budget over to the Taleban education ministry for it to distribute.
The representatives said they were faced with no choice but to close the schools.
The Taleban may try to keep them running using Afghan teachers. But without proper resources they are likely to deteriorate to the level of the rest of the state education system.
Parents and teachers there complain that there is hardly any funding for salaries or books and that each year the curriculum becomes more and more weighed down by religious subjects.
Expense for poor
The Taleban has also ordered all students in private English and computer courses to wear turbans, the headdress that the Taleban says is an Islamic tradition.
At the start of the year, they ordered all state sector pupils beyond grade three to wear turbans, a considerable expense for poorer families.
Computer and English students in Kabul said the religious police had visited their classrooms, threatening to expel students and close down any school which defied the order.
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