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Afghanistan to Take Back Madrassas in 2007

Education Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar announced in April that the Afghan government will begin setting up its own madrassas (religious schools) in order to counter the influence of extremist elements operating the countryside. The Ministry of Education considers it the government’s ethical responsibility to offer a tolerant and modern Islamic education for young Afghans, as many parents wanted religious schooling for their children. These schools will offer a pluralistic, peaceful, authentic alternative to the Taliban's use of education as a weapon of terrorism.

The Taliban often prey on Afghans from poor backgrounds who are given food and shelter when enrolled into extremist boarding schools. "They teach them hate and they teach them the kind of things that have no consistency with our religion. And as a result they get suicide bombers recruited from these madrassas and they get Taliban fighters from these madrassas," said Minister Atmar.

The first schools are scheduled to be established this spring, with a new madrassa to eventually open in each of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The planned schools will accommodate up to 50,000 children, and will offer 40% religious education, 40% general education and 20% computer science and foreign languages.

"The enemies of democracy in this country, the enemies of stability in this part of the world, are actually using education as a weapon of terrorism. They have established for some time now across the border hate madrassas," said Minister Atmar.

Photos from Afghanistan's Education Day Celebrations

  

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