Attacks on Afghan schools increased three times between 2017 and 2018, according to a UNICEF report cited at the third International Conference on Safe Schools on Tuesday, May 28. The numbers increased for the first time since 2015 and surged from 68 in 2017 to 192 in 2018.
Executive Director of UNICEF Henrietta Fore said, "Education is under fire in Afghanistan." "The senseless attacks on schools; the killing, injury and abduction of teachers; and the threats against education are destroying the hopes and dreams of an entire generation of children," Fore added.
The conference, held in Spain, attended by global leaders accentuated how the state of education has deteriorated due to the ongoing conflict in the country due to the Taliban and other extremist groups in the region.
According to a New York Times article, Nooria Nazhat, a spokeswoman for the ministry of education, said that the government did not have any specific statistics to back up the UNICEF report. "However, every week we have a report about schools getting attacked in Afghanistan", she confirmed.
In the last several months, 431 schools for both boys and girls have closed for security issues and the government is trying to reopen them, she added.
School buildings were used as polling booths for the 2018 parliamentary elections sue to which more than 1000 schools closed by the end of the year. This was a violation of the right to education of half a million children in the country.
According to the UNICEF Afghanistan annual report 2017, an estimated 3.5 million children remain out of school. The nationwide gaps have been identified are infrastructure, teaching and learning materials, textbooks and qualified (female) teachers.
About 75 per cent of the total out-of-school children in Afghanistan are girls. The report also states that gender disparities are often reinforced by geographical inequities and limited access to services in rural areas with parents reluctant to allow girls to walk long distances to reach school, in addition to cultural and religious barriers.