Turkish Press, September 8, 2007
Taliban unrest shuts nearly 400 schools in Afghanistan
The closures meant that around 200,000 school children would not be able to attend classes in four provinces
KABUL - Nearly 400 schools in Afghanistan will remain closed when the school year starts next week because of violence linked to the Taliban-led insurgency, education officials said Saturday.
All the affected schools, among 8,500 in Afghanistan, are in the south, where the violence is worst, they told AFP.
"Altogether nearly 400 schools will remain closed," deputy education minister Sediq Patman told AFP.
"We will do our best to get these schools opened, but it depends on security," Patman said.
Nearly a third of the closed schools are in the southern province of Helmand, which has seen some of the heaviest unrest this year and is also Afghanistan's top opium-producing region.
More than half of Afghanistan's children are not going to school because of a shortage of places and teachers, the aid agency Oxfam says. Girls in particular are losing out, with just one in five girls in primary education and one in 20 going to secondary school.
IRIN and BBC News, November 27, 2006
The Taliban, who were in government between 1996 and 2001, have carried out a campaign of burning schools and killing teachers as part of their Al-Qaeda-backed insurgency.
Since 2005, more than 110 teachers, students and other education workers have been killed, most of them in southern Afghanistan, Patman said. Nearly 100 others have been wounded in such attacks, most of which are blamed on Taliban.
The closures meant that around 200,000 school children would not be able to attend classes in four provinces in the unrest-torn south, education ministry spokesman Zohur Afghan said.
Afghan said most of the closed schools were in remote districts of the four provinces where the Taliban have been most active since they were toppled from power in a US-led invasion in late 2001.
Violence linked to the Taliban insurgency has soared over the past two years.
About six million children, half the school-aged population, are in school in Afghanistan, about six times more than in 2001.
This is nearly 70 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls, according to the UN children's organisation, UNICEF.
Characters Count: 2568