Monday, July 24, 2006

Afghanistan’s Little Red School House?

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”?


truepeers said...

Charles, so here we have a nation, Canada, that retains enought of its traditional altruism to want to help Afghanistan, but it mixes this with vague ideas of its own self-interest in the worldwide war against Jihad, and with its own politically correct ideas of moral relativisim and not imposing values on others; and so it goes off to Afghanistan with only a half-baked plan. Sooner or later something has to break.

Do you figure we will ever have the will again to try and transform a foreign culture? It doesn't seem like it at the moment. ON the other hand, the more and more we become radicaly distinguised from the poor world with our technology and wealth, the more and more the great divide within humanity becomes morally untenable, from all perspectives. Terrorism and al Qaeda are just among the first clear signs that we have to involve ourselves again with the world we cannot isolate and deny. Relativist PC doesn't go far in reworking the fundamental human imperative of reciprocity. SOmething else will have to be tried and no doubt the sooner the better.

Safiyyah said...

I think it's best not to get carried away with such news items. Corporal punishment is common in most parts of the world. In fact, if you were to ask people from your parents' generation whether they were beaten for minor things, you'd find that most of them were. And here we're talking about a liberal democracy, remember.

Charles Henry said...

...if you were to ask people from your parents' generation whether they were beaten for minor things, you'd find that most of them were....

Safiyyah, I must disagree with you, because of the context. There was certainly corporal punishment of a harsh nature in our not-too-distant past. My father would tell me time and time again of the beatings he received, and saw delivered, back in Europe; and my mother has told me as frequently of the treatment she witnessed from nuns, of all people, here in Canada.
But even in their most ghoulish eye-witness descriptions they never approached anything like this:

"My hands have gone black because of the beatings."
"Our teacher beats me until blood comes out of my nails," she said.

It's not what it is, it's **how** it is what it is; it's a matter of degree. Their approach is so severe it can only rebound against them; how many children would prefer the penury of being uneducated if it meant being spared such brutal beatings? How many, like the young girl quoted in the piece, will choose to leave school the moment they feel empowered enough to do so?
What poverty awaits uneducated people in that part of the world?

We're supposed to be helping to bring their penury to an end. We won't do so if we turn a blind eye to why these males feel so empowered to beat women, no matter their age.

Are you saying that we have no reason to try and transform their culture? That corporal punishment *of that degree* should be nobody's business? What, is it "consentual" beating?

CJ said...

I agree with you. But when you've finished cleaning up Afghanistan, could you please down here to the States and help reform some of our private schools? There is a fellow in Warsaw, Indiana named Pastor Ronald T. Williams, who runs a church and a school for troubled girls:

Williams also has a website where he sells tracts:

Note that all are available online, except for the two, "Man in Charge" and "The Correction and Salvation of Children", which are listed as "not yet" available online.
The truth is, they USED to be found online, but were removed, because of public outrage.

Now hold onto your lunch, and read an excerpt from Williams' tract on child "correction" (it's too long to publish here in its entirety):

The Correction and Salvation of Children
By Ronald E. Williams

The world and humanistically-trained minds are repelled in horror at the thought of a God who would deliberately order painful correction of a child and use words as strong as "beat" in ordering parents to carry out that correction. The Scriptures make it abundantly clear that such painful correction is the most loving, wise, and responsible procedure that a Godly parent can follow in developing obedience and character in his child. Therefore, when you hear someone object, "But that will hurt my child," you can answer, "Precisely, that is God's goal, that the child be hurt with the pain of the spanking during a session of correction."
Both my wife and I have often remarked that it is good that one of our children was not our firstborn. This particular child who came along later in our family was extremely willful and rebellious toward our authority and would often require sessions of correction lasting from one to two hours in length before the will would finally be broken! Had this child been our first, we may well have been tempted to despair of the grace of God.

Do not be discouraged, dear parent, when it appears that your Godly efforts to chastise your child with the rod of correction meet with total resistance towards your authority. This simply means that you have started on the right course and you must now pursue your objective of a broken will with great vigor until your mission is finally accomplished. This may require a great deal of self-discipline on your part but you can do it, since God requires you to do so.

My wife and I have a general goal of making sure that each of our children has his will broken by the time he reaches the age of one year. To do this, a child must receive correction when he is a small infant. Every parent recognizes that this self-will begins early as he has witnessed his child stiffen his back and boldly demonstrate his rebellion and self-will even though he has been fed, diapered, and cared for in every other physical way.

On what occasions should a child be corrected? Whenever a child directly disobeys authority or shows disrespect and rebellion toward authority, that child should receive correction. Lesser infractions of course would receive lesser forms of correction with the rod being reserved for the more serious infractions.