Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Education: At the Forefront of Efforts to Counter Terrorism

Education is one of the core targets of the terrorist groups; they attack indiscriminately education everywhere e.g book Haram in Nigeria, ISIS in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Al-Qaeda in different parts of the world, Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan have pursued the same strategies and tactics on education with the same justifications. 
Attacking Girls’ Education as the highest priority
The ISIS and the Taliban, have a long history of attacking girls’ schools in Afghanistan. The root cause of such an approach to girls’ education is that religious extremists hold the idea that educational institutions propagate western values. Hence, the religious extremists oppose education. They believe that gender secularism is opposed to Islam and anti-Taliban. Thus, they oppose the idea of female education and attack those institutions or personalities that support the education of girls. Considering the conservative social context of Afghanistan, the condition of girls’ education and right to its access is already not very favorable due to wide differences in gender equality, traditional society, religion and culture. This situation has become worst due to religious extremism and opposition demonstrated towards females as religious extremist hold the belief that education would make girls equal to the boys which is against the their beliefs.
Specific measures that Afghan Government and the International Community shall take
It is clear for the Afghan Government and the international community, how important education is in preventing the spread of violent extremism; however they require devising policies to actively counter terrorists’ war on education. The US Agency for International Development and other international donors have spent millions of Dollars on Afghan education programs. But research suggests that current US government and other International Community-funded education achievements are at a high risk. On one hand, ISIS, Taliban and other terrorist groups deliberately target the schools, especially the girls’ schools in the areas under control of the Afghan government and at the same time they welcome opening schools in areas under their control. So, we should be even more worried that the Taliban are now welcoming the opening of schools in areas under their control. Foreign aid may build the schools, but those who control the classrooms win the hearts and minds. And education infrastructures will change to the tools of empowering the terrorist groups and their harsh ideology. In such a context, the Afghan government and the International community should ensure both security of the education institutions, especially ensure equal access of the girls’ to education and at the same time they shall ensure that terrorist groups cannot use education facilities as a strategic tool to empower terrorism ideology in the country.
One of the key conclusions one may have from this review is that in order for interventions to be more sustainable, programming for girls education should adopt multi-pronged approaches; such approaches will be more responsive to the communities being served and combined with programs that tackle discriminatory cultural and social attitudes and practices while promoting women’s economic and political participation in Afghanistan. Afghan government and international community shall take approaches that span different sectors and actors, and also the humanitarian/development divide in the country.