There's probably no aspect of current activity in Afghanistan with more support in the Western world. It's the subject of bestselling books, noble humanitarian missions, and is celebrated by of economists, military strategists, and international do-gooders alike. Yet Dana Burde says no: we should stop building schools in Afghanistan.
We shouldn't turn our back on education in Afghanistan, mind you. But the actual building of separate new school structures--the stuff of those bestselling books like Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools by Greg Mortensen--this might best be stopped, Burde argues in The New York Times. Why? Because such schools make easy targets.
Close to 1,000 schools have been bombed or burned since 2006, and hundreds of teachers and students have been killed. The Taliban, who when they were in power banned education for women, attack girls' schools disproportionately, and in some southern provinces the proportion of girls attending middle school has dropped to less than 1 percent. These attacks are made easier when there is a physical school to take aim at.
Instead of building new school facilities, says
Burde, we should be adopting the NGO-advocated strategy of " promoting
schooling without school buildings." Currently, "thousands
of these community-based education programs, housed in existing
community structures, are bringing education to girls and boys across
the country." The best part? "According to a report released by CARE last fall, there
has been only one recorded physical attack on such a community-based
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.