Education

With thousands already behind, Kunduz province hopes to reopen damaged schools

By Muhammad Qasem

More than 30,000 students have missed school in the past two years as some 50 schools have been forced to close their doors in Kunduz province, local officials and residents say. [Hasib Hasas]

KUNDUZ -- Kunduz officials, students and elders are pushing for schools to reopen in the province after dozens were closed as a result of conflict and as restrictions remain as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19.

More than 50 schools have closed in the provincial centre and six districts of Kunduz over the past two years, according to Abdul Hafiz Kakar, the director of urban education at the Kunduz Department of Education.

The closures, COVID-19 and other problems mean more than 30,000 students could not attend school in Kunduz during that time, he said.

The 50 damaged schools make up a sizable proportion of the province's more than 500 schools, and some 380,000 students attend those still in operation.

Fourth-grade students attend Kuhandazh High School in Kunduz city last October 19. [Hasib Hasas]

Fourth-grade students attend Kuhandazh High School in Kunduz city last October 19. [Hasib Hasas]

"Some of our schools were hit by artillery shells, while some others were turned into military posts," Kakar said.

"A number of other schools were located in areas of permanent conflict."

In addition to war and insecurity, the outbreak of COVID-19 has affected education, he added.

"COVID-19 cases are not on the rise right now in the country," he said. "We will wait until the start of the school year in March and decide, depending on the spread of COVID-19."

Efforts are under way to reopen the damaged schools, ease restrictions on students and bring back students who were left out of school, he said.

Left behind

Students and residents themselves are hoping for the damaged schools to reopen.

Amanullah Azizi, a 9th-grader at Alchin High School in the provincial centre, told Salaam Times that he was unable to continue his studies over the past three years because his school was situated on the front lines.

"I would have graduated by now and would be preparing for university studies had it not been for the war and insecurity," he said.

"Sometimes our schools were used as military posts and other times they would get hit by mortars, which forced us not to attend school," he added.

Unless Afghan schools re-open, the education of thousands of other students will be disrupted like his, Azizi said.

Residents of Chahar Dara district have seen most of the fighting, which has kept them behind in all aspects of life, Abdul Rahman Samadi, a resident of the district, told Salaam Times.

"Although new schools were built in our district in the last three years ... war and insecurity did not allow girls and boys to go to schools," he said.

"The more we fall behind in education, the more our society will remain behind," he added. "Governments should not create obstacles for the youth's education and should let them change the future of their country."

"There is no power that can stop us from obtaining an education. Our youth must be united and fight jointly against ignorance and darkness," he said.

A basic right

"Around 2,000 students have been deprived of attending Alchin High School, since the school has been closed for the last 12 years," said Azizullah Esmati, a member of the Kunduz Education Support Council.

He lives near the school, but his children could not attend it because the school was used as a military base and came under regular targeting, he said.

Aid agencies should assist in the reconstruction of damaged schools so that Afghan children do not miss out on an education, he urged.

Sayed Shamsullah Maiwandi, a civil society activist in Kunduz, said progress and development in any country rely on the level of its citizens' education.

Without education, society will go toward darkness, he added.

The rights of youth, especially the right to education, should not be taken away from them under different pretexts, he said.

"Free education opportunities, even for graduate degrees, should be provided to the youth so that they can build their country and we no longer need to bring in specialists from abroad."

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From the Islamic point of view of the sacred religion of Islam, knowledge, and education have the highest value and importance, some of which are referred to as follows: Allah Almighty Himself is the All-Knowing, the All-Seeing, the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. Knowledge is mentioned in the Holy Qur'an more than 582 times. If one searches for words like prudence, reason, wisdom, and so on, the number increases even more. Allah is the possessor of perfect and complete knowledge. He knows all including apparent, hidden, later, coming, big, small, high, low, secrets, eternal, this world, the world after this, life, death, grave, day of judgment, hell, paradise, earth, heavens, bodies, souls, intentions, actions, etc. He knows about the treasures of the Unseen Grains, seeds; Know the fall of the leaf and the taking of the sighs. He knows what exists in the womb of a mother, knows the state of the child, the movement of the rain, the direction of the clouds, the direction of the universe, the date of death and life, the occurrence of future events, and the state and place of human death. In short, Allah knows everything and is fully aware of it. The first verse of the Holy Qur'an and the first letter of this verse begins with the word (Iqra), meaning (read), and contains the wisdom of a world. The pen and writing are so important that Allah has sworn by them. According to Islam, human beings are equal in terms of honor, dignity, good posture, and value, but several things give hum

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Former President Hamid Karzai has urged the opening of girls' schools at the beginning of the new year. In a meeting with UN special envoy Deborah Lyons, he discussed the current situation in the country and stressed the need to send the girls back to schools next spring and recruit young professionals. Former President Hamid Karzai had earlier said in an interview that opening schools for girls and boys at the beginning of next year is the first and foremost demand of Afghans, and that is their right.

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Our problem is that consciousness has not developed. The Taliban and the Pakistani and Iranian intelligence had their hands behind the demolition of the schools. Iran was behind the destruction of electricity and water dams in the southwestern region.

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