The new AAN report ‘The Battle for Education: The Taleban and State Education’ by authors Antonio Giustozzi and Claudio Franco looks at the Taleban’s changing attitude towards state education. In the last two years, the Taleban have increasingly allowed schools to operate in areas under their control or influence, but this has come at a price – a more conservative curriculum and more mullahs employed as teachers in state schools.
The report traces the different contestations around state education with a special focus on the past decade. In 2002, opening and building schools and getting Afghan boys and girls educated was a priority for the new government and its international backers. For the Taleban, one of the main tactics of their campaign against the government was to attack schools. The violence peaked in 2006, with dozens of students and teachers killed and hundreds of schools burned or forcibly shut down.
Having publicly committed themselves to the anti-school campaign of violence, the Taleban could only backtrack slowly and early efforts to deal-making between the Ministry of Education and the Taleban failed. “At the time of writing,” said Giustozzi and Franco, “the Ministry of Education leadership seemed keen to turn deal-making on schools into a confidence-building measure for future political negotiations. The Taleban, on the other hand, appear more motivated by the need to improve relations with rural communities, who are themselves increasingly wary of a conflict which never seems to end.”
“Since 1978,” said Giustozzi, “education has been a political touchstone and a battlefield. The post-2001 attacks on schools are part of that pattern. Yet in the last two years, we have seen rural communities motivated by a pragmatic desire for schooling for their children force the Taleban to change their strategy. The Taleban, unable to forcibly end state schooling, have, however, managed to partially co-opt it. The main losers in this new modus vivandi are Afghan girls.”
To read the report click here.