The Taliban fight for ignorance in Afghanistan
Taliban and other militant groups are forcing schools to close across Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, assassinating teachers and students and destroying school buildings, educators and government officials say.Well, it does appear there is some evidence of the Taliban war against education despite their denial. What this story suggest is that if we had an adequate force to space ratio, one place the droops should be deployed is near schools where they could destroy the Taliban fighters that are attacking these sites.
Helmand's deputy minister of education, Mamoud Mohammed Wali, said extremists have forced 75 of the 228 public schools in the province to close and have burned down at least eight in the past year.
The schools are being destroyed as 21,000 U.S. troops surge into Afghanistan. Many of them are likely to wind up in Helmand, a large agrarian province west of Kandahar.
Though the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah and some larger towns remain relatively secure, the Taliban controls the countryside and has made Helmand the nation's leading producer of opium.
As a result of Taliban attacks in outlying areas, government officials say, about 3,000 students have flooded Lashkar Gah. The students have jammed classrooms beyond capacity, forcing administrators to conduct lessons in tents.
Taliban officials deny that they have destroyed schools.
"We have never taken the responsibility for setting the schools into fire," said Qari Mohammad Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman. The government officials "are only blaming us for the destruction without any evidence, and for sure we have not committed that kind of crime."
School officials in Lashkar Gah said the attacks are part of an effort by armed militants to intimidate residents, control small pockets of the province and institute an extreme brand of Islam.
"They just don't want the population to receive an education," said Shahsanam Khan, 51, headmaster of the Karte Lagam Boys' School, where assassins shot a student and a security guard in 2007.
Achtar Mohammed, a 25-year-old high school senior, said Taliban soldiers threatened to kill teachers at his school in Nawa-i-Barakzayi district and then set fire to the building one evening last year.
The Taliban denial is also an indication that an information operation against the Taliban tactic of destroying schools would help alienate the religious bigots from the population. I will immodestly suggest my headline on this post as a place to start in that campaign.