The Taliban controls at least 200 schools in insecure districts in Herat, local officials said on Tuesday.
Chairman of the Herat education department Ahmad Razaq Ahmadi has confirmed the report and said he is satisfied with the monitoring of these schools by the Taliban in their strongholds.
Responding to Ahmadi’s remarks about the Taliban, a number of civil society activists and members of the Herat provincial council have spoken out about his stance and said the issue is indicative of government’s failures.
According to Ahmadi, the department of education is unable to monitor schools in Shindand, Geran, Kashak Kohna, Adraskan and Oba districts of Herat due to the high level of security threats.
“In areas where there are security threats, the Taliban undertakes the monitoring, our employees can not undertake monitoring of these schools, therefore the Taliban are monitoring the schools in areas under their control,” said Ahmadi.
Ahmadi said he is satisfied with the monitoring of these schools by the Taliban.
“We are happy with the monitoring by the Taliban, because at least they monitor the schools, for instance, the information which we have from the people in Kashak Kohna district, the Taliban monitor the schools and they control tensions at schools; we are very happy with this work of the Taliban,” added Ahmadi.
But, his comments sparked a major backlash by civil society activists and members of the Herat provincial council.
“The issue that the education department says they are happy about the monitoring by the Taliban, that he (Ahmadi) talks about it in such detail is not acceptable; because the monitoring process needs to be conducted on the basis of principles and regulations (by the education department), because if armed opponents undertake the job of the government, this is totally unlawful,” said Sayed Azim Kibrzani, a member of Herat’s provincial council.
“Monitoring of the Taliban at schools indicates that government and local officials in Herat are very weak and the Taliban is strong, therefore government needs to tackle the issue very seriously,” said civil society activist Jawad Ameed.
Statistics from Herat department of education shows that of the total number of schools - 969 - 750 of them are controlled by the education department, but another 219 schools are controlled by the Taliban.