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Nearly 3.7 million of all children in Afghan out of school, first time since 2002: UNICEF Report

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 3 June 2018, 15:28 IST

Afghanistan has been a war zone area and because of violence around the country, many schools in Afghanistan have been closed, undermining fragile gains in education for girls.

Nearly half Afghan children are out of school due to conflict, poverty, child marriage and discrimination against girls, the number rising for the first time since 2002, humanitarian organisations said in a report on Sunday.

There are millions of children in Afganistan who have never set foot in a class room.

Some 3.7 million children between the ages of seven and 17, or 44 percent of all children, are out of school, 2.7 million of them girls, Education Minister Mirwais Balkhi told a seminar, explaining a study conducted by UNICEF, USAID and the independent Samuel Hall think-tank.

The Taliban, wants to overthrow the U.S.-backed government and return the country to strict Islamic rule after their 2001 ouster, are adamantly opposed to education for girls and threats from ISIS have forced the closure of dozens of schools.

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There are a lot of reasons why children are not going to school.

"Education of children is the most important development in all human communities," he said. "It is the most important tool in fighting war, poverty and unemployment."

The provinces which are badly affected, up to 85 percent of girls are not going to school, the aid groups said. They did not give specific time periods or comparisons.

In April this year, terrorists set ablaze two schools and widespread violence had led to closure of hundreds of private schools.

"Business as usual is not an option for Afghanistan if we are to fulfil the right to education for every child," said Adele Khodr of UNICEF in the report.

"When children are not in school, they are at increased danger of abuse, exploitation and recruitment."

One teenage girl, Ziwar, from central Daikundi, one of the safest provinces in the country, said she had been at school until she was 14.

"I can read and write. I can write a letter," she told seminar delegates. "I learn from books. I want to continue my studies. I want to become a doctor in the future."

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First published: 3 June 2018, 15:28 IST