Wednesday 26 September 2018
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Pakistan: Surge in Militant Attacks on Schools

(New York) – Alleged militants attacked and burned down at least 12 schools in Diamer district of Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region early on August 3, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today. At least half were girls’ schools. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Pakistani government should take urgent measures to make schools safer, and fairly prosecute those responsible for attacks against students, teachers, and schools. “The devastating attacks on schools in Diamer highlight the dangers that many students and teachers in Pakistan face on a regular basis,” said Bede Sheppard, deputy children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should promptly investigate and prosecute these attacks and ensure that children have a safe place to attend school.” Pakistan faces significant education challenges, with an estimated 25 million children out of school. Militant violence has disrupted the education of hundreds of thousands of children, particularly girls. Militant Islamist groups, including the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and their affiliates, attack schools and universities to foster intolerance and exclusion, target symbols of the government, and particularly to drive girls out of school. Militants have previously targeted girls’ schools in Diamer district. In February 2004, attackers destroyed nine schools, eight of them for girls. Explosives hit two girls’ schools in December 2011. The nongovernmental awareness campaign Alif Ailaan reported that Diamer is the lowest-ranked district in terms of quality of education in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, and is among the 10 lowest ranked in the country. Only 3,479 girls are among the 16,800 students enrolled in government schools in the district, which has 88 government schools for girls and 156 for boys. After the Taliban took over large parts of the Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in 2007, it began a violent campaign against education for girls. Over 900 girls’ schools were forced to close and over 120,000 girls stopped atten

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