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Page last updated at 15:15 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

Afghan parents keep children home

By Martin Vennard
BBC News

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Fears of worsening security and a recent acid attack on schoolgirls have led many parents in one Afghan province to keep their children at home.

There has been a significant decline recently in the number of pupils, especially girls, attending school in the central province of Ghazni.

The provincial council says 15,000 pupils have stopped going to school so far this year.

Fifty schools have closed because of the security situation.

Specific threats

The Taleban denied it was responsible for last month's acid attack on schoolgirls in Kandahar province, but parents fear something similar could happen to their daughters.

Many of them have stopped sending their children to school.

Kandahar schoolgirl after last month's acid attack
The Taleban denied it was responsible for last month's acid attack

One girl said she felt threatened: "We're particularly worried about the security situation, especially in Ghazni.

"About a month ago there was a rumour going round that girls shouldn't go to school. There was even a warning that girls would be beaten if they went to Jan Mali-ka school."

Another girl said the authorities had to do more to protect them: "I ask the government to take care of security and then we'll be able to go to school in peace."

Ismael Jahangeer, a spokesman for the governor of Ghazni, said security was a problem in several districts and that there had been specific threats against schools.

But he said the governor was taking measures to improve the situation.

"Regarding the security of schools, especially girls' schools, the governor of Ghazni has told the security chief there should be guards in schools."

Under the former Taleban government girls were banned from attending school. After it was overthrown, many girls returned to the classroom.

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