Brave staff stalked by death squads

27th April 2007 at 01:00
setarah, a teacher, walked into her classroom at an Afghan girls' school one day and found a landmine hidden in the corner.

She is not alone in fearing for her safety. In Thailand, two primary teachers were shot by militants who dragged their bodies along the road before setting them on fire.

Such attacks on teachers are becoming increasingly common, according to Unesco, the United Nations education organisation.

In Education Under Attack published today, Unesco says the number of attacks on pupils, teachers and educational organisations has risen dramatically in the last three years. Incidents include assassination, abduction, torture, bombings and the forced closure of institutions.

Countries with the highest numbers of attacks include Iraq, where 180 teachers were killed between February and November 2006, and Afghanistan, where there were 88 attacks against schools in 2006. Motives vary. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, for example, extremist Islamic groups target schools catering for girls.

In Thailand, teachers are singled out by Muslim separatists, because they teach children Buddhist-Thai culture. Brendan O'Malley, the report's author, said that the impact of attacks stretches beyond classrooms. "It puts children off going to school," he said. "It puts their parents off sending them to school. Young people are deterred from going into teaching.

And teachers don't know if they will be targeted next. How do you keep going in that situation?"

Universal primary education is a development goal set out by the UN. But 77 million children are still out of school, 40 per cent of them living in conflict zones.


Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today