Afghanistan denies deal with Taliban over schools

Last Updated: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - 22:55

Kabul: The Afghan government on Sunday denied
making a deal with the Taliban agreeing a more conservative
curriculum and more mullahs as teachers in return for an end
to attacks on schools.

Responding to a report released by the Afghanistan
Analysts Network (AAN), the Afghan ministry of education said
it would not cut any deal which could jeopardise the school
system.

The AAN report, published on Tuesday, said such deals
were taking place at national and local levels, and appeared
to be behind a drop in attacks against schools.

The violence peaked in 2006 when dozens of teachers and
students were killed and hundreds of schools burned down or
forcibly shut, the think-tank said, although these attacks
provoked a backlash from local communities.

"The Ministry of Education strongly denies all the
details and contents of this report and assure the proud
nation of Afghanistan that it will not cut a deal with anyone
or any group which could jeopardise the immense and historic
gains achieved in the education system," it said.

The AAN report said initial negotiations between the
ministry and the Taliban began in 2007 although they were cut
short, allegedly because of US opposition.

But negotiations continued at a local level, with the
Taliban agreeing to reopen schools if a conservative
curriculum was adopted and Taliban-approved religious teachers
were hired, usually in addition to MoE teachers.

The report said in 2010 the ministry reopened
negotiations, coinciding with the removal of a Taliban order
to attack schools and teachers.

"The Ministry of Education leadership seemed keen to turn
deal-making on schools into a confidence-building measure for
future political negotiations," the authors Antonio Giustozzi
and Claudio Franco said.

"The Taliban, on the other hand, appear more motivated by
the need to improve relations with rural communities, who are
themselves increasingly wary of a conflict which never seems
to end."

PTI



First Published: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - 22:55

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