If there is one reason for Canadians to value our presence in Afghanistan it would be this one. Gloria Galloway writes for the Globe and Mail of the steady increase in school enrolment despite continued threats of death, dismemberment and mutilation of children by the Taliban. At the Mirwais Mina high school where students and their teachers were sprayed in the face with battery acid last November, enrolment has increased. Initially students stayed away immediately following the attacks but now nearly all have returned. Attendance has increased from 800 pupils to 1300 in one year.
It would seem that the combined efforts of parents, school officials, Canadian and NATO troops are providing the Taliban with an lesson of their own; education is important and threats of danger and even death will not stop children from attending school.
Hajim Anwar, director of education in Kandahar province is frustrated by those who claim little progress has been made in the Afghan education system. ” There is good education and the education is increasing, not decreasing” he said. Parents are resolved in their desire to bring better lives to their children through schooling. Yet most of the spike in attendance is due to the increasing number of boys going to school with many girls still being denied the opportunity as gender discrimination remains the prominent factor in the lives of Afghanis. Hopefully, this gender disparity will decrease as more schools with a rounded and balanced cirriculum open and Taliban inspired madrasses are challenged as the only marker of learning.