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Last Updated: Wednesday December 07 2005 17:49 GMT

Case study: Girls' education in Afghanistan

An Afghan girl writes during Dari language lesson
Until recently, girls in Afghanistan were denied the right to go to school.

Under the Taleban rule, from 1996 to 2001, female education was banned. Women and girls were excluded from all aspects of Afghan educational life, from primary school to university.

The government closed all of the girls' schools in the country and prevented female teachers from working.

Many parents feared that their daughters would grow up illiterate. Some girls were secretly educated in their homes by parents and teachers; others attended underground schools.

The Taleban fell from power in 2001, after an intensive three-month military campaign led by the US. The country lay in disarray and all schools were suspended.

Reconstructing the education system was a top priority.

Books and other materials were rushed to schools so that 93% of them would be able to open by March 2002, the first day of term.

In total, more than a million girls are now at school in Afghanistan.

More girls are now attending school in Afghanistan than in the decade before the Taleban introduced its ban on female education.

There are still around 2 million students living in rural areas, many in refugee camps, who continue to be denied their right to education.

Hostility to girls' education also continues in Afghanistan.

According to an article published in November 2002 in the British The Guardian newspaper, authorities there have been investigating a series of attacks by suspected Taleban sympathisers against girls' schools in the province of Wardak, near Kabul.

Four schools were attacked in the last week of October 2002 in an attempt to stop parents sending their daughters to study. The attackers fired rockets into the schools, and raided them. They also set fire to chairs and blackboards.

Basic education continues to be denied to at least 125 million children worldwide, according to the Global Campaign for Education.

One in three of the world's adults continue to be illiterate.

This case study is a simplified version of one produced by the BBC's World Service. For case studies about each article in the Declaration of Human Rights, click on the link in the right-hand, dark-blue box.

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