|© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-0793/Kate Holt|
|Afghanistan: Girls attend an informal school outside a mosque in the Mian Poshteh Bazaar.|
Michael Sandler is a writer for the UNICEF USA communications team. This is his first Fieldnotes entry.
Last week, while helping shepherd eighty boisterous Brooklyn 5th graders on a class trip, I was struck by the elaborate rules and occasionally frantic demeanor of the teachers trying to corral the students around Washington, D.C. With talk of hiring special security at our hotel, the clear assumption was that: school is safe, but this outside world is very dangerous.
In truth, the days spent in our capital’s museums and souvenir shops proved less than perilous. But all week, newspapers were filled with stories illustrating why in many places, an opposite assumption applies: School isn’t safe. Not at all.
In China, brutal and seemingly random displays of violence took the lives of teachers and kindergarteners. In north Yemen, both rebel and pro-government gunmen were reportedly occupying schools by force.
And in Kunduz and Kabul, Afghanistan, dozens of female students were hospitalized after an apparent attack with poison gas.
These are different instances of tragedy–some less preventable than others. But UNICEF abhors the notion that the simple act of attending school should ever be an experience fraught with insecurity.
This week’s photo is of three girls in Afghanistan attending an informal school outside a mosque in the Mian Poshteh Bazaar, a former trading center for opium and weapons in Helmand Province. The area is currently occupied by military forces. Attacks on schools and girl students throughout the country have deterred many families from sending their children to official schools.