UNICEF condemns fatal shooting outside Afghan girls’ school
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has strongly condemned a shooting outside a girls’ school in Afghanistan’s Logar province which left two students dead and four people injured, including a teacher.
“This is a heinous, cowardly act against students and a teacher whose only crime was to be in school,” said Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan. “By attacking students and the teacher, the perpetrators are attacking children’s right to education and threatening the very fabric of Afghan society.”
Two gunmen on motorbikes opened fire yesterday as teachers and students were leaving Qalai Saeeda girls’ school, located in Pul-i-Alam, near Kabul.
More than 6 million children in Afghanistan headed back to school in March this year, a considerable achievement for a country where years of war have left a heavy toll on the education system.
However, UNICEF is concerned that similar incidents – and the intimidation aimed at stopping families sending girls to school – could undo some of the progress achieved so far in the educational realm.
Although school enrolment has increased in the past few years, only 66 per cent of boys and 40 per cent of girls of the country’s school-aged children are attending classes.
“The sight of girls in school is an obvious sign of progress, and there are those who are afraid of such progress,” Ms. Mbengue said. “However, I do know that communities in Afghanistan want to see their children get an education and recognize the value of learning.”
The killings at the school follow other attacks on females in Afghanistan, where two leading journalists were recently murdered. Zakia Zaki, founder of one of the first community radio stations run entirely by women in Afghanistan, was killed in her home while lying with her infant son during the night of 5-6 June, while television journalist Shokiba Sanga Amaaj was shot dead just five days earlier.