By Bushra Rahim
Many children and youth in conflict zones are being injured, killed, kidnapped, recruited and traumatized. Armed conflict negatively impacts children’s access to school, and interrupts the studies of enrolled students. As we look forward to implementing a new education agenda post-2015, it is vital that the particular needs of children in conflict-affected areas are addressed and their human right to education assured.
In this blog, Bushra Rahim, Dy Director at Finance Department Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pakistan and Ph.D. student at University at Albany-State University of New York, provides a heartfelt account of the recent tragedy in Peshawar and the impact of the on-going conflict on the education system in her native Pakistan.
On the 16th of December 2014, a group of militants stormed the Army Public School and College in Peshawar and fired indiscriminately. Over 140 people (mostly teenage students) were killed, and a further 250 injured. The school, operated by the Pakistan Army, was the intended target, although the 1,100 enrolled students come from both army and civilian backgrounds.
The province in which the school is located, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is one of the poorest and most troubled regions in Pakistan. More than 830 schools have been destroyed in the area between 2009 and 2012. Many students have been regularly targeted by militant groups. In October 2012, Malala Yousafzai, was shot by the militants for raising her voice in support of children’s education in district Swat. On January 2014, a ninth-grader from district Hangu, Aitazaz Hassan Bangesh, sacrificed his life trying to stop a suicide bomber set on blowing up his school.