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Preventing Violent Attacks on Education in Afghanistan: Considering the Role of Community-Based Schools

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In Afghanistan, anti-government forces including the Taliban, their allies, common criminals and local warlords launch violent attacks against schools, students, teachers, and administrators. Attacks include bombing of buildings, arson, targeted killings, and acid attacks particularly on female students and teachers. Although data are difficult to collect and track, the impact of these attacks is clear. Hundreds of teachers and students have been killed, and hundreds of schools have been forced to close. Girls are severely intimidated, and in Zabul, Uruzgan, and Paktika Provinces the number of girls attending lower secondary school has dropped to less than one percent. Attacks on schools, students, and education personnel undermine security and serve as critical indicators of social instability. Yet official responses to the attacks on education in Afghanistan have been slow and lackluster. This paper draws on observational data of community-based schools in Afghanistan to examine the types of violence that affects education in Afghanistan and to explore the ways in which community-based schools may be less vulnerable to these types of attacks. I argue that community-based schools can help reduce the likelihood and frequency of ideological and criminal attacks on education that affect both the demand and supply of education services. Community-based schools do this by eliminating the need for school buildings and reducing distance to school. I offer a summary of constraints and opportunities that these schools present.

Dana Burde is an assistant professor of international education at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, an affiliated faculty of the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and an affiliated research scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University.

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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