Sunday 20 January 2013

How the TTP is creating an educational wasteland

Hundreds of schools have been destroyed by militants in Pakistan
It's hard to understand the logic of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) policy of destroying schools in FATA and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP). They have never really explained it, other than to say that the buildings are sometimes used as barracks by the Army and Frontier Constabulary (FC). 
Nor is it only girls' schools that have been destroyed. The militants appear to make no distinction. Are they anti-intellectual? Do they not want their children to be able to read and write? Perhaps they are in favour of keeping the tribal people in ignorance and darkness? Certainly there can be no religious justification for their attitude.
The consequences for Pakistan are shocking. UNESCO's Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2012 states that Pakistan had a total of 5.1 million children out of school, making it the nation with second highest percentage of out-of-school children in the world, behind Nigeria. The UNESCO figures show that around three-quarters of Pakistani girls are not in primary school and the number finishing five years of education has declined. Adult literacy is projected to fall almost 15 per cent in the next three or four years.
And yet the destruction continues. Official data from the Conflict Monitoring Centre in Pakistan shows that over 758 schools have been destroyed in KP alone, including 640 in Malakand Division, between 2009 and 2011. According to the FATA Secretariat militants have destroyed 450 schools, including 68 boys and 26 girls schools in Bajaur, 66 boys and 23 girls schools in Mohmand and 31 boys and 27 girls schools in Khyber Agency.
Although aid agencies have tried to provide funds to rebuild some of these schools, the work is very slow. In FATA only 17 per cent of destroyed schools have been rebuilt. And there does not seem to be much political will to rebuild either. The KP government allocated just 2.21 per cent of its budget for 2012-13 for rebuilding schools.

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