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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