International Educator - March/April 2017 - 64

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A VIEW FROM OUT HERE
By Zama Coursen-Neff

Brave Educators Face Down Mortal
Danger, But They Need Help
The dimming daylight in the courtyard outside told me that it would soon be time to leave. My
fellow researcher and I needed to be back in Kabul before dark, and I pictured him outside-
with the driver-checking his watch.
"At first my
husband
and other
family didn't
want me
to become
a teacher
because,
they said,
'You will be
killed.'"

64  

But when "Laila" opened up a photo album on the
cushions where we sat, I moved closer. Here was a birthday
party in Kabul, she explained, pointing to women with
styled hair and eye shadow. A plate of sweets, family members smiling. Her father, a doctor, before he was killed by
rockets. Laila and her husband had moved to his family's
land in a village in a province southwest of Kabul to escape
fighting in the capital in the 1990s. The pictures were evidence, she showed me, that her life was not always like this.
"This" was her family's mud-brick compound right
across from an abandoned school building where Laila
had been a teacher. I had come there to ask her about
the school.
Laila says that when she first came to the village, people assumed she wasn't educated and only later learned
she had completed grade 14 (postsecondary technical
training). After the Taliban government's ouster in 2001,
villagers asked her to run a school. "At first my husband
and other family didn't want me to become a teacher
because, they said, 'You will be killed,'" she says. "But I
started despite these problems."
Months before I met her in late 2005, Laila's school
had grown to nearly 200 girls in grades 1-6. But one
morning in September, at about 7 a.m., as the first children were arriving, they discovered a clock in one of the
classrooms. Laila went to investigate, and found that the
clock was connected to an explosive device: "The clock
was set for 9 a.m.," she says. It was a little bit far away
from the mine. There were wires connecting it to the
bomb. The mine was round. It was put on the side of the
class. A bag was put on it. . . . I started taking students
out of the school and sent my son to call his father."
That afternoon international forces came and
exploded the mine in a field.

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR M A R + A P R .17

Laila forbade her children from returning to the building, but with her fellow teachers moved the classes into
the courtyard of her home. No one considered this a real
solution, she says: "We see the commitment of villagers
to keeping the school. We want the authorities to provide
security for the school so we can continue to work."
Dozens of teachers, students, and local education officials told us the same thing that year-they desperately
needed security. Just in the six months after I met Laila,
my organization, Human Rights Watch, documented
more than 110 attacks on schools, teachers, and students
in Afghanistan. Students and teachers were killed.
Since then we have traveled to about 20 other countries
and reported that this is not just a problem in Afghanistan.
In nearly every country in conflict, women and girls-as
well as boys and men-are putting their lives on the line to
teach and learn. Beyond the dangers of crossfire, especially
if troops move into their schools, many are being intentionally targeted as a tactic of war.
According to the Global Coalition to Protect Education
from Attack, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations and United Nations agencies, at least 30 countries
have experienced a pattern of attacks on education institutions, teachers, and students in the last eight years.
Some are now well known, like Malala Yousefzai,
whom the Pakistani Taliban shot because she wouldn't
stop fighting for girls' education, and the schoolgirls of
Chibok, Nigeria, who were abducted by the armed group
Boko Haram when they returned to school to take exams.
Others known by only a few, like 13-year-old "Deka"
from Somalia, who told me about her last day of elementary school in Mogadishu. Fighters from the armed
Islamist group Al Shabab burst into her classroom. "We
want this boy, this girl," they demanded, taking two boys



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - March/April 2017

From the Editor
In Brief
Global Spotlight Cuba
Insights
Voices
Feature: Lay of the Land: What Now?
Feature: Finding Common Ground through Art Therapy
Feature: Empowering Refugees Through Education
Campus Profile: New York Institute of Technology
Campus Snapshot: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Education Abroad
International Student Affairs
Partnering
View From Out Here
In Focus
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Cover1
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Cover2
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 1
International Educator - March/April 2017 - From the Editor
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 3
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 4
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 5
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 6
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 7
International Educator - March/April 2017 - In Brief
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Global Spotlight Cuba
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Insights
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 11
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Voices
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 13
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 14
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 15
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Feature: Lay of the Land: What Now?
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 17
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 18
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 19
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 20
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 21
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 22
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 23
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Feature: Finding Common Ground through Art Therapy
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 25
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 26
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 27
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 28
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 29
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 30
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 31
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Feature: Empowering Refugees Through Education
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 33
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 34
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 35
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 36
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 37
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 38
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Campus Profile: New York Institute of Technology
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 40
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 41
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 42
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 43
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 44
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 45
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 46
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Campus Snapshot: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 48
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 49
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 50
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 51
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Education Abroad
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 53
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 54
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 55
International Educator - March/April 2017 - International Student Affairs
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 57
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 58
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 59
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Partnering
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 61
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 62
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 63
International Educator - March/April 2017 - View From Out Here
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 65
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 66
International Educator - March/April 2017 - 67
International Educator - March/April 2017 - In Focus
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Cover3
International Educator - March/April 2017 - Cover4
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