Young Girls Defy Taliban, Learn In The Rubble Of Their Former Classrooms


Earlier this year, Kanju Chowk Elementary School in Swat was targeted by Taliban militants simply because the teachers are women and the pupils are girls.

The head teacher, Parveen Begum, gives us a tour of what they left behind. She covers most of her face with a white shawl, and treads carefully over the debris in beaded leather slippers.

"This used to be the classroom for our very youngest pupils," she says, as we look into a room of mangled chairs and desks, littered with shredded exercise books.

"All the girls cried when they saw what the militants had done to it."

Parveen says that when the Taliban took control of Swat, she started receiving threatening letters.

"They said if we didn't close the school they would blow it up with all of us in it," she says. "We were scared, but we stayed open."

Then a group of Taliban militants visited Parveen at the school in person.

"They told us we could stay open if we all wore burkas, even the little girls," she says. "We did that, but they blew the place up anyway."

More than 300 schools in Swat were damaged in this way.

It was a systematic effort by the Taliban to stop girls getting an education, and one of the main ways they chose to put pressure on the government.

But the Taliban are not in charge here any more and, in spite of immense difficulties, lessons at Kanju Chowk have restarted.

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