Teachers: Agents of Human and Social Development
“Education is the primary building block of every society.” – UN, Education for All
“… to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights…. The equal rights of men and women…” – Charter of the United Nations
“Everyone has the right to education.” – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“…ensure inclusive equitable quality education for all [including, free primary and secondary education for all boys and girls]” – UN, Sustainable Development Goals
For centuries education has been recognized as constitutive to the development of the human person. Societies characterized by peoples’ participation hold it to be essential to good governance. Since the founding of the United Nations, it has become a sine qua non of social development. These basic principles, summarized in the above quotes from UN standards and affirmed by international civil society, are now in dire jeopardy under the fundamentalist-misogynist rule of the Taliban.
Quality education, preparation for a fulfilling life and responsible citizenship in one’s birth society and participation in a diverse and rapidly world community, is undermined by the Taliban’s idiosyncratic and non-orthodox interpretation of Islam as the primary curricula of all schools. The Koran does not assign lesser human value to women.
The severe restriction on the education of girls and young women in barring their secondary school and university attendance violates their fundamental right to a quality education, denies the society of the potential of half the population, and stands in the way of the economic and political development, requisite to a viable future for Afghanistan.
Participants in and followers of the Global Campaign for Peace Education have become familiar with both the necessity of girls education and the tenacity of Afghan educators in providing it through reports from Sakena Yacoobi, Founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning. A most vivid example of the tenacity and vocational commitment of Afghan educators is in the widely reported press conference, demanding the payment of teachers salaries.
The most egregious and painfully evident obstacle to Afghan education at the moment is the situation of its dedicated and courageous teachers. Many have been teaching without salaries for months, no doubt while making other social contributions teachers have always made. Many of them, men as well as women, are the sole providers for their families.
At this time, the single most constructive action to be taken for the welfare of these educators, their families and their country is for the World Bank to transfer some of the humanitarian aid that could pay their salaries.
The letter drafted and circulated by Code Pink (reproduced below and available for signature here) is addressed to President Biden, as the United States carries more weight with the Bank than other nations. Readers are urged to sign this letter, and those who wish to take more action could address letters directly to the World Bank and to their own heads of state, and UN representatives, calling for their support for this initiative, and for the world body, all its agencies and all members of the international community to demand compliance with international standards as preconditions for any and all dealings with the Taliban. (–BAR, 10/5/21)