Conflict leaves 43 schools closed in Shinwari zone
JALALABAD (Pajhwok): The conflict in Shinwari zone of eastern Nangarhar province has led to the closure of 43 schools, driving about 20,000 children out of school, an official said on Tuesday.
Months ago, gunmen loyal to Taliban and Islamic State groups entered bloody clashes in six districts of the Shinwari zone and later government forces launched operations against the rival militant outfits.
The clashes not only led to the closure of schools in the conflict-hit areas, but also negatively impacted schools in nearby areas.
Nangarhar Education Director Raeesullah Dad Ismailzai told Pajhwok Afghan News during an interview: “Seven schools in Achin district, 11 in Kot and all the 25 schools in Haskamina district have been closed.”
He said though schools in other districts of the zone were operational, but they had been negatively impacted.
The education director urged influential figures and religious scholars to assist his department in its efforts to reopen the schools.
He also called upon the militants and said: “Education sector is home to all. Instead of creating problems, it should be assisted.”
Education Ministry spokesman Mohammad Asif Shinwari told Pajhwok Afghan News that the education sector in the Shinwari zone was in grip of many challenges.
“In three district of the Shinwari zone, 43 schools have been closed and it has deprived more than 20,000 children of education and 1000 teachers of their jobs,” he said. He also confirmed the conflict had affected schools in nearby districts.
The official said 60 schools had been established for children of the displaced families from the Shinwari zone, estimating the population of the displaced families at 13,000.
Shinwari also expressed the concern that equipment and buildings of the closed schools were in danger of being destroyed.
“There are office equipment, furniture, laboratories and teaching materials at the 43 schools and we fear they will be damaged.”
He said the rights of the teachers were reserved with the ministry and they would resume teaching once the schools were reopened.
He hoped the schools in the Shinwari zone would be reopened given the effectiveness of the operations against Taliban and Islamic State militants there.
Operations have been ongoing against militants in the districts, including Achin.
Nangarhar police chief Brig. Gen. Fazl Ahmad Sherzad was among several high officials who described as successful the ongoing operations in the Shinwari zone during a press conference last week.
They had said the security forces were advancing and many areas were cleared of militants.
The insurgents who sometimes speak to the media about their clashes with security forces have so far said nothing about the closure of schools.
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