Blood red, that is:
"Our teacher beats me until blood comes out of my nails," says an 11-year old Afghan girl."
"If I don't have a stick with me, I can't teach... " says an Afghan male teacher.
Is there to be no hope for Afghanistan? I read this story and again I ask myself, are we as a nation serious about helping these people or not? Just how low is our standard of measurement, to insist on so few changes before proclaiming that nation as “helped”? The Taliban are gone… big deal, if their madrassas are to be replaced by "secular" schools like these:
Hard lessons in Afghan schools
July 24, 2006
HERAT, Afghanistan -- Nine-year-old Mahbuba has been beaten so many times by her teacher that she is afraid to go back to school.
Showing her bruised hands, she said, "Our teacher is a very bad person. My hands have gone black because of the beatings. I hate my teacher and school."
Mahbuba's father Nurullah, who lives in western Afghan province of Herat, is sympathetic to her plight - and he is furious with the school.
"I send my child to school so that she'll learn something, not for her to be beaten by vicious teachers," he said, adding that he has already had to take Mahbuba to a nearby hospital to have her hands treated.
The head of Herat's provincial education department, Mohammaduddin Fahim, said that beating and other forms of ill-treatment were against the country's education law, and any teacher found to be doing so would face legal sanctions.
Teachers in the province - where at least half-a-million children, two-fifths of them girls, attend about 600 schools - remain unrepentant about using violence, and openly hostile to instructions telling them to change.
"In my experience, unless pupils are beaten they will not be corrected," said Abdul Karim, a headmaster in the Pashtunzarghun district.” …..
Khowaja Mohammad Nadir Seddiqi, the head of the teachers union in Herat province, argued that since Afghan children had grown up surrounded with violence, they would not study unless they were beaten.
He had a simple message for his colleagues, "Teachers should use canes to beat their pupils, so that they fear them."
Saifuddin Maulawizada, a teacher in the Guzra district, described how he regularly beats his charges by tying up by their feet and beating them on the soles with a stick.
"If I don't have a stick with me, I can't teach because the pupils don't listen to me and they disrupt the lesson," said Maulawizada.
"In foreign countries, beating and threatening children is regarded as a crime for which the perpetrator is punished, whereas in our country, children are punished for very minor things," said Abdul Salam Hikmati, a member of the psychologists' association in Heart
Rahima Halimi, who heads the children's rights section of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission's Herat branch, said, "Violence against children is widespread both in the home and at school, and has a negative impact on children's minds. We have voiced the problem several times to the officials concerned, but no measures have been taken."
Apart from banning schools from administering physical punishment, [Mohammad Muhsen Ismailzada, who represents the Afghan education ministry in Heart], said that education officials are planning other steps to bring about change.
Until these changes happen, pupils like Masooma, 11, will go to school only as long as their parents make them.
"Our teacher beats me until blood comes out of my nails," she said. "I am not an animal. I go to school to study, not to be beaten.
"I don't want to go to school, but my parents force me to."
I try to be optimistic as I stumble through life, but increasingly I see nothing but misery in store for these people. Sadly, all too many Canadians, young and old, proudly announce themselves lacking the will to be of necessary service to fix this problem. As a former CUPE member put it to my wife earlier this year, “who are we to tell these people how to live?”
What other sentiment could one expect from regular viewers of the CBC, Canada’s weapon of choice for self-flagellants? Why help other people, after all they’re only people themselves, it’s not like we have anything in common with them… or something like that; not being in the habit of watching the CBC, I’m a little vague on their reasoning.
Good Canadians are dying in Afghanistan. I do not want us to leave, but dammit I do want us to fix things, and we cannot fix what we deny is broken; we cannot clean a sewer if we declare ourselves indifferent to sewage . Every MAWO protestor who carries a “get out of Afghanistan” sign around my country makes it all the more likely that the political will to raise Afghanistan out of its moral rubble will suffer just as assuredly as the poor children being beaten black and blue by readers of the koran. Every CBC viewer who supports the NDP's position, as outlined last April,"to ask questions to help Canadians to determine if this is the right mission for Canada to be participating in, beyond our current commitments which end in February, 2007", every such supporter prolongs the misery of the Afghan people, and guarantees that valiant Canadian heroes are dying for nothing.
After reading these appaling stories of little girls being beaten by mysoginist readers of the koran, to the point where these tormented young women seemingly long for illiteracy as the lesser of two evils, what kind of Canadian would insist we abandon Afghanistan? If we leave, will these bloodthirsty schoolteachers, for instance, have more freedom to beat up children, or less?
"Is this the right mission going forward?", asked NDP leader Jack Layton.
What do you really believe, CBC viewers, MAWO dwellers, NDP supporters: dare we really “give peace a chance”?