Poisoning innocent school girls has once again started in Afghanistan. There have been many such incidents in different parts of the country. It is believed that these actions are meant to discourage girls from going to school and pursuing education as their education is considered non-Islamic by Taliban extremists.
On Saturday, more than 100 girls were poisoned in Chahar Bagh School for girls in western Farah province. According to a statement by the provincial public health director, Abdul Zabar Shaqaiq, 106 girls were admitted to a local hospital after they were mysteriously poisoned and two of them were in critical condition. They had fever and were shivering as a result of the incident. He, however, mentioned that the poisoning was not serious. Moreover, the source of the poisoning was once again not identified.
Previously as well when such incidents took place, the gas that was used for poisoning was not identified at all. For example, last year in September, about 300 girls and female teachers were poisoned in three different incidents at two different schools in western Herat province. And, it remained mystery that what was actually used in the attacks. Moreover, such incidents have also taken place in Kabul, Bamyan, Jawzjan, Badakhshan and Maidan Wardak in the past few years.
In Afghanistan as per the parochial tribal norms and extremist religious beliefs women are not supposed to seek education. Their roles and responsibilities are confined to their houses and they are not permitted to leave the premises of their houses without the permission of the male members. And, the endeavors that are carried out to change this condition have to face severe opposition and even violence. There are examples wherein the extremists have thrown acids on the school going girls. Therefore, the parents have to be very cautious and even discouraged to send their girls to school.
Nevertheless, it should not go unmentioned that such attacks are really cowardly and show the mentality of the extremists. They are not able to stand against the developments in the society and, therefore, target the weaker stratum in order to show their waning strength. It is, nonetheless, important to note that the religious extremists have not only targeted the education of the girls but they stand against the modern education as a whole.
In this regard, it is interesting to note that there have been certain efforts to improve the modern education system in Afghanistan but they have not be steady enough to provide a solid base for better education to all the children of Afghanistan. There were some efforts by King Zahir Shah during the mid-20th century to promulgate education to as many children as possible. After him certain educational developments started during the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, which designed many education policies so as to spread modern education among the people. Education was emphasized for both male and female. It was the first occasion when female education was given true importance. One of the basic reasons of the rise of women participation in education sector was the support of the government by Soviet Union. The presence and role of Soviet Union in Afghanistan will always remain controversial because of its imperialistic nature but its influence can never be ignored on the development of education sector.
Unfortunately, the civil wars that followed the withdrawal of Soviet regime from Afghanistan proved to be havoc for the education sector. Because of absence of strong government at the center, the situation of peace and order was shattered into thousand pieces. Various educational institutions were affected by ugly manifestation of violent intentions.
With the rise of Taliban in 1996, the decline of education system which was already not in a satisfactory condition, started. Taliban banned the female education and promulgated the madressah system of education, which was based on a very obsolete and improper methodology. The students were confined to a single approach towards education and that was the Clergy approach, which depended on an extremist interpretation of Islamic teachings. Investigation and research were banned strictly, and students were not allowed to question their teachers. Rather, they were asked to blindly follow what the Clergy approach had to offer them. The basic purpose of education was thus non-existent in the so called education systems of Taliban. They were more like training camps for generating cadre for terrorist groups.
Today the situation has improved marginally; however, it has yet to go miles so as to reach satisfactory position. The important factor to note is that the drawbacks in the system are hurting the weaker strata of the society to a larger extent and unfortunately women belongs to one of the same. Therefore, there are such incidents of violation of their rights throughout the country. Government authorities should take strict notice of such incidents and must try to make sure that the system treats every stratum of society in accordance to the demands of justice.