NYT-Education Threat to Extremism-

Education Poses an Existential Threat to Extremism

Lying in her hospital bed in Kabul, Afghanistan, having survived an extremist group’s bombing that killed more than 80 students at her school, a 17-year-old named Arifa was as determined as she was frightened. “I will continue my education, even if I’m afraid,” Arifa, who hopes to become a doctor, vowed to Richard Engel of NBC News. Afghan girls and boys may lack books, pens and laptops, but in their thirst for education, they have plenty to teach the world. Indeed, one of the few things the extremists and the students seem to agree on is the transformational power of education, especially girls’ education. In some hideous way, perhaps it was rational for fundamentalists to blow up the school, because girls’ education poses an existential threat to extremism. That’s why the Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head. It’s why the Afghan Taliban threw acid in girls’ faces. In the long run, a girl with a book is a greater threat to extremism than a drone overhead. “The way to long-term change is education,” said Sakena Yacoobi, a hero of mine who has devoted her life to educating her fellow Afghans. “A nation is not built on temporary jobs and mining rights, contractors and political favors. A nation is built on culture and shared history, shared reality and community well-being. We pass these down with education.” Complete Article HERE

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Refugee Children Explain How Education Helped Put Their Trauma Behind Them

Eighteen-year-old Chuol Nyakoach lives in the Nguenyyiel Refugee Camp in Gambella, Ethiopia. Chuol is grateful that despite the trauma she has already experienced in her young life, she is able to continue her education in the refugee camp. Learning has given her a reason to wake up every day. “My life has changed and ECW’s [Education Cannot Wait] education has given me something to look forward to every day in my life. In the future, I hope that I will be able to help my community and my country using the knowledge that I am gaining now in my education while a refugee,” Chuol told IPS. The Nguenyyiel Refugee Camp is the largest in the area, comprising some 82,000 South Sudanese refugees, many of whom fled their homes in South Sudan after the escalating conflict in 2016 forced thousands to cross into Ethiopia through the Pagak, Akobo and Burbiey border points. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 68 percent of those who live there are children and adolescents under the age of 18, who need to continue their education. “I really appreciate all that has been done in support of refugee children like us. Because of ECW’s work we have been able to receive education for almost two years now in a safe environment,” Chuol told IPS. A three-year Education Cannot Wait (ECW) initiative was announced in February 2020, which aims to help provide education to 746,000 children, addressing the specific challenges holding back access to the quality education of children and adolescents in communities left furthest behind due to violence, drought, displacement, and other crises. ECW is the world’s first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises.  Complete Article HERE

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Education Provides Hope Amid Despair for Syrian Refugees

It has been a bleak decade for Syria’s children and young people. But education is providing a ray of hope.  We met four young Syrian refugees in Lebanon who told us their stories, fears, and hopes for the future. A decade into the Syria conflict, millions of children have been born in displacement inside Syria and across the wider region. Hundreds of thousands of young people have had their lives shattered and uprooted from the safety they grew up in. Lebanon alone hosts an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18. As the situation in Lebanon worsens as a result of compounding crises, children are spending more time at home and are more likely to drop out of education. Schools have now been closed for over a year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The unprecedented economic crisis has driven many families into extreme poverty. For the most vulnerable families in Lebanon, it is very challenging to engage children in remote learning activities. Many households lack the necessary internet connection or equipment; others feel forced to send their children to work to make ends meet.  Complete Article HERE

Even Suicide Bombings Can’t Keep These Students From School

Two and a half years ago, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest during an algebra class at the Mawoud Academy tutoring center. At least 40 students, most from Afghanistan’s Hazara ethnic minority, died as they studied for college entrance exams. Najibullah Yousefi, a teacher who survived the August 2018 blast, moved with his students to a new location. He has a plan for the next suicide bomber. “I’m in front of the class and will get killed anyway,” Mr. Yousefi, 38, said. “So to protect my students, I will go and hug the attacker” to absorb the blast. Perhaps no other minority group faces a more harrowing future if the Taliban return to power as a result of negotiations with the Afghan government—especially if they don’t honor a pledge under a February 2020 agreement with the United States to cut ties with terror organizations such as the Islamic State. But even as the violence deters some students, many young Hazaras keep returning to classrooms. They have swept aside their fears and dread to pursue dreams of higher education in a country where attending class is an expression of faith amid a climate of terror. Complete Article HERE

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Middle East Needs to Learn Lessons From the Holocaust

We are undergoing a historic change across the Middle East in the wake of the Abraham Accords, moving into an era of greater empathy and compassion as well as a stronger understanding of the concept of coexistence. But even in 2021, we still have many lessons to learn and the Holocaust is an essential pillar of that. It has historically either been downplayed or even denied across the Middle East and, with a rise in antisemitism around the world, now is the time to address this bitter truth. One lesson is for sure: We must never see the unnecessary and brutal, inhumane deaths of millions of innocent human beings again. But we continue to, across the region, from the Kurds to the Yazidis. Political ideologies still remain a barrier to coexistence, and humanity is crying out for change. It is not only a matter of learning from the tragedy of the Holocaust, but we have to look into history in a way that will take the lessons that add value to us and will create a better future for the new generation, promoting common values that will promote coexistence. This history of the Holocaust is still alive and, as such, it must take a firm place in our history books in the Arab world, too. For too long, our educational systems have omitted critical parts of history in the West, even denying the existence of whole peoples or states, and this can no longer go on…. Complete Article HERE

Rehabilitated School Brings Together Conflict-Affected Communities in Ethiopia

For Ethiopians like Ahmed, an eighth grader at Bilisuma Primary School, pursuing education in East Hararghe has been agonizing. An outbreak of violent conflict in 2016 led to the disruption of education and schools were damaged. “I have a very keen interest in finishing my studies. However, I was forced to stop for some time because of a conflict in my town. This created a gap in my academics. It was very frustrating,” Ahmed explained. “Every time it is deemed safe to return to school, I’ve already forgotten what I have learned before classes were interrupted.” East Hararghe Zone borders the Oromia and Somali regions of Ethiopia. A 25-kilometre drive off the main road here takes one to the even more remote district of Gursum, where there is little access to basic facilities. The community in this district witnessed inter-communal conflicts between 2016 and 2018, which destroyed what minimal facilities there were. Thousands of people were displaced as a result of the conflict while vital facilities such as schools and health posts were damaged. Ahmed is among the hundreds of students in Gursum District whose studies have been affected by these conflicts, one of many whose memories of the conflict still haunt….  Complete Article HERE

Iran classroom during pandemic

Teaching Hate: Iran Textbooks Push Antisemitism

Iranian schoolkids are studying antisemitism, hatred and conspiratorial material in their textbooks, including a theory that Western media hyped up the COVID-19 pandemic to thwart large-scale attendance at last year’s celebration of the Iranian revolution, according to a comprehensive study published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Thursday. The ADL said its report, “Incitement: Antisemitism and Violence in Iran’s Current State Textbooks,” is the first comprehensive study of antisemitism, intolerance and extremism in the official Iranian school curriculum in nearly half a decade. The study was published on the 42nd anniversary of the 1979 revolution that saw the rise of the current autocratic, conservative Islamic regime which has long threatened to destroy Israel and which is now battling US sanctions imposed to curb its nuclear activity. Last year, in response to the global pandemic, Tehran updated school textbooks to include a conspiracy theory alleging that Western media exaggerated the coronavirus to drive down turnout at crowded ceremonies for the regime’s 41st anniversary, said report author David Weinberg.  Complete Article HERE

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Turkey Detains Dozens More Over University Protests

Authorities in Turkey made dozens of new arrests in cities across the country Thursday, after downplaying international criticism—including U.S. condemnation—of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on university student rallies. According to police, about 600 people have been detained since January 4 as protests spread in the capital, Ankara, and in Istanbul. Erdogan has accused student demonstrators of being terrorists for protesting his appointment of a new rector at Bogazici University in Istanbul, one of the country’s top schools of higher education. For over a month, students, faculty members and alumni of Bogazici University have protested Erdogan’s appointment of Turkish politician and academic Melih Bulu, demanding an election to choose a rector from the university’s own faculty. Bulu holds a doctorate from Bogazici’s business management program but has never been a full-time academic at the university. Critics accused him of plagiarism in his dissertation and published articles and called for his resignation. Bulu has denied those accusations. His involvement in politics also stirred controversy over his appointment, since he once ran for parliament as a candidate for Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).  Complete Article HERE

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On International Day of Education 3.7 Million Afghan Children Remain Out of School

January 24 is considered the ‘International Day of Education; Afghanistan also celebrates this day, as in the last 20 years, one of the greatest accomplishments has been increasing access to education for all Afghans. Despite the tremendous achievements, 3.7 million Afghan children are still deprived of education. This country opened its first modern school around 117 years ago, but still has a long way to go to popularize education in the highly traditional society. Opposition to girl’s education is still a serious challenge. During the Taliban regime, girls and women were utterly banned from public appearance and going to schools. That period is considered the darkest era for girl’s education. Complete Article  HERE

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Education Day: A Schoolgirl in Bangladesh Reads Her Way to Success

Illuminated by the winter sun streaming through her bedroom window, 13-year-old Fatema reads through the half-dozen books spread across her desk. In Bangladesh, Fatema is one of the 42 million children who have been out of school for almost 12 months. Spurred by the pandemic, inequality between students threatens to grow deeper and wider in 2021. The lack of technology at home and limited connection to the internet, together with economic instability, puts girls, rural students and socio-economically disadvantaged children at risk of being left behind. “I have been studying on my own at home [during the pandemic] and my sister helps me with my studies,” says Fatema. “I like studying on my own because nobody disturbs me, but I will feel very good when the schools reopen.” Fatema has always been self-motivated. Last year, before schools closed, she was ‘book captain’ at her school in Cox’s Bazar. As part of a literacy program with the U.S.-based not-for-profit Room to Read, supported by Washington and the Government of Bangladesh, over 40,000 students across 146 primary schools in the district receive a reading curriculum and storybooks.  Complete Article HERE