More than half a million Afghan girls were newly enrolled in school during 2005, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Some six-and-a-half-million children are attending about nine-thousand Afghan schools employing fourteen-thousand teachers.
The increased enrollment reflects a growing demand by Afghans for education for their children, boys and girls alike. A recent survey conducted by Pajhwok Afghan News in twenty-eight of the country's thirty-four provinces found that education was the number one priority for most Afghans polled.
Extremists have stepped up their war on education, burning schools, beating and killing teachers, and threatening parents with death. Establishing security, says Haji Mohammad Qasim, director of education in Helmand, "is a vital step for imparting education, without which the smooth process of learning is impossible."
Fed up with Taleban terrorism, Afghans are taking to the streets. Afghan men and women, including some in wheelchairs, recently marched in Herat to protest suicide bombings and other terrorist actions. "Many people were sacrificed for our freedom," said a woman demonstrator. "Now, thank God, we have freedom but our enemies don't want us to have peace," she said. Abdul Hamid, another demonstrator, called on the government of Pakistan "not to allow terrorism in madrassas."
Many Afghans see extremist religious schools in Pakistan as training grounds for terrorists. To meet the terrorist threat, Afghanistan continues to build up its security forces. Some twenty-seven-thousand Afghan soldiers and fifty-five-thousand police officers are now on duty. President George W. Bush says Afghan security forces are making a difference:
"They're taking the fight to the enemy. They're working side-by-side with coalition forces to protect this new democracy."
The U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, said President Bush, is "to provide stability so democracy can flourish."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.