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    End disruption to educational process, Taliban urged

    LAKHKARGAH (PAN): Education Minister Dr. Farooq Wardak on Thursday called on the insurgents to stop causing a disruption of the educational process in southern Helmand province, where 155 schools have been closed for security concerns.

    Wardak, who addressed a gathering in Laskhargah, the capital of southern Helmand province, said his ministry had approved 137 new schools for the province, blaming the closure of schools on lack of attention to the problem by the residents concerned.

    He said Helmand was one of the country's largest provinces, but it maintained a low literacy rate because most of the dwellers abstained from sending their children to schools.

    "If residents, tribal and spiritual leaders keep stressing on education, it would put pressure on the insurgents to avoid opposition to it," the minister said. He asked elders to enter talks with the Taliban over not halting the educational process in Helmand.

    Helmand Governor Mohammad Naeem said the people of Helmand had realised what value the education kept, saying closed schools were being reopened on a daily basis in cooperation with locals.

    Those once opposed to education were now asking for assistance from the education department in reopening closed schools in their areas, the governor said.