Taliban har gått over til å true studenter og lærere, for å fremtvinge stengning av skoler og få studentene til å slutte seg til Taliban, opplyser utdanningsministeren.

The number of students and teachers killed in Taliban attacks has tripled in the past year in a campaign to close schools and force teenage boys to join the Islamic militia, Afghanistan’s education minister says.

While the overall state of Afghan education shows improvement, Education Ministry numbers point to a sharp decline in security for students, teachers and schools in the south, where the Taliban thrives: The number of students out of classes because of security concerns has hit 300,000 since March 2007, compared with 200,000 in the previous 12 months, while the number of schools closing has risen from 350 to 590.

The Taliban strategy is deliberate: «to close these schools down so that the children and primarily the teenagers that are going to the schools — the boys — have no other option but to join the Taliban,» Education Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.
Still, overall there is good news in Afghanistan’s educational comeback since the days of the Taliban, when girls couldn’t attend schools and fewer than 1 million boys did. Some 5.8 million students now attend class, up from 5.4 million a year ago, 35 percent of them female, Atmar said.

The Education Ministry’s goal is that within four years 75 percent of all boys will be in classes — up from roughly 50 percent currently — and 60 percent of all girls — up from less than 30 percent today.

Schools also suffer from a shortage of qualified teachers, particularly female ones, and of infrastructure.
U.S. forces in the eastern province of Kunar are linking Afghan children with schools in the U.S., Italy and Germany that can supply pens, notebooks and chalk, the military said Wednesday.

«Being in the U.S., it is hard to visualize the lack of resources they have here,» Army Capt. Jay S. VanDenbos, 30, from Tahlequah, Okla., was quoted as saying in a military news release.

Teachers are underpaid, and of Afghanistan’s 9,400 schools, only 40 percent have proper facilities, he said. «Ninety percent of the schools are open-air schools, which are sometimes a tarp and a dirt floor. They’ll have a rock that they use as a chalk board, and kids sit underneath the tarp and learn.»

«Most of the kids want to learn. They yearn for knowledge,» said VanDenbos. «Anytime anyone goes on patrols, the kids are screaming to ‘give me pen, give me pen.'»

Attacks on Afghan students up sharply