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The Killid Group, January 9, 2016

Schools in name only

Hundreds of schools are closed because of security threats, while some 65 percent function under the open sky. A Killid investigation.

Going to school is fraught with danger in provinces like Takhar, Sar-e Pol, Baghlan, Parwan, Nangarhar, Kunduz, Helmand and Badakhshan. Schools have been targeted and buildings blown up by Taleban and other armed anti-government fighters.

Nearly 10 million students – a little less than half girls – are affected. While Killid’s research points to roughly 780 closed schools in 34 provinces, the Ministry of Education, claims a third of the number.

Helmand: Sardar Mohammad is an assistant teacher in the Helmand education department. He says some 170 schools are closed in the province. Most of them in Marja, Sangeen, Musa Kala, Kajaki, Greshk, Nadali, Nawzad and Markaz Babaji areas. One hundred and four of the Helmand’s 454 schools have been closed for the past three or four years. Sixty nine shut recently because of security threats. The number of enrolled students in the province is 192,500 including 51,867 girls.

Zabul: Some 150 schools have been closed for 10 years in Zabul province. Rahimullah Ludin is the head of education department in Zabul province. He says 60 percent of children are unable to go to school. The worst affected are districts like Shahjoy, Daichopan, Arghandab, Shamelzi and Shinkai. Some 9,800 of the 46,035 children enrolled in schools are girls.

Schools in Badakhshan in bad condition
A school in Badakshan. Low standards of schools are a big problem in Afghanistan, not given any importance. (Photo: RAWA.org)
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Kandahar: The number of schools closed due to conflict in the province is 140. Nazar Mohammad Samimi, information officer in the provincial education department says schools have been closed for the last 13 years in Registan and Shorbak. There are some 318 functioning schools. The total number of school-going students in Kandahar is 263,000 students (70,000 girls).

Uruzgan: Among the worst affected, 60 schools are closed in Choora, Dehrawad, Gizab, Nesh and Khas Ruzgan. Allah Dad, the assistant teacher in the education department, says the schools have been shut since 2012. Of the 292 registered schools in Uruzgan, 232 are active and enrolled some 71,000 students including 3,000 girls.

Farah: Some 54 of the 367 schools are closed in the province. Mohammad Sarwar who is administrative assistant in the Farah education department says schools are shut in Khak Safed, Bakwah, Posht Road, Shebkoh and Balabolook. The number of enrolled students is 125,300. A little more than half are female.

Nangarhar: There are 40 closed schools located mostly in Chin, Koot, Batikoot and Chaparhar districts. Mohammad Asef Shinwarai, information officer, Nangarhar education department says the schools were closed because of threats of violence from Daesh (Islamic State) fighters. Previously 59 schools were closed but because of the efforts of village elders, 19 have reopened. These are in areas where military operations have taken place against Daesh. Some 820,000 students are enrolled in schools in the province. There are 475,000 boys and 345,000 girls.

Schools in Paktika, Paktia, Ghazni and Nimroz are among those less affected.

Paktika: Kochai who heads the education department says six schools have been closed for three years. Twenty seven shut two months ago as violence flared. Some 158,983 students are studying in 361 schools in the province. Only 29,500 are female.

Ghazni: There are 32 closed schools. Unfortunately not a single school is open in Nawa district. Mohammad Abed Abed, head of the provincial education department told Killid the situation in Zanakhan district was previously the same as in Nawa. Now the schools are open once again. The worst affected are the districts of Khogiani, Dehyak, Ajrestan and Andar. In Ghazni, 380,000 students are studying in 635 schools. There are 171,000 females.

Paktia: Some 28 out of 353 schools are closed. The affected districts are mainly Sayed Karam, Dandpatan, Zadran and Chamkani. Luqman Hakim, head of education in Paktia, says schools were shut because of security concerns or personal differences. According to Luqman, 203,000 students are studying in the 325 schools. There are 60893 girls and 143,017 boys.

Nimroz: Twenty three schools are shut in districts such as Char Borjak, Chakhansoor and Khashroad because of security threats, says Abdul Wahed Hekmat in the education department. The remaining 135 schools in the province have admitted 85,000 students – 40,000 are girls.

The situation is uncertain in many other provinces. Schools have been closed for the last three weeks in Kunduz.

Destroyed schools

The Ministry of Education says it has no statistics for the number of schools blown up or set on fire by Taleban and anti-government forces. Kabir Haqmal, head of publication department in the ministry says some 100 schools were partly destroyed in 2014.

Killid’s research reveals 22 schools were razed to the ground. The break-up is 12 schools in Logar, 4 in Parwan, 2 in Ghazni and one school each in Farah, Faryab, Ghor and Kunar.

There are thousands of schools running out of tents and in the open including in Kabul. Eighty one of the 273 schools in the Afghan capital function out of make-shift premises. The state of schools is equally dismal in the provinces. Half the schools in Kunduz do not have buildings; the ratio is more than half in Takhar. Out of 458 schools in Kandahar, 274 have no building. Schoolchildren in only 97 of Sar-e Pol’s 388 schools have a roof over their heads.

Originally published on Dec. 28, 2015

Category: Children, Education - Views: 3235