One man’s passion wins school for Afghan village

Students attend a class at the Nooranya School in the southeastern Paktika province of Afghanistan as women make huge strides in education. (AN Photo)
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Updated 06 January 2020

One man’s passion wins school for Afghan village

  • Education Ministry invited father to Kabul last week, presented him with medal

KABUL: The Afghan Education Ministry has said it will build a school in the village of a man who spent seven years traveling by foot or motorbike to take his daughters to a school 12 km away from his home, the ministry’s spokesman said on Sunday.

Mia Khan, an illiterate wage laborer and heart patient who lives near the city of Sharan, in the southeastern Paktika province, would park his motorcycle outside the school every morning and wait for classes to end so the family could make the long journey back home.

Last week, the Afghan Education Ministry invited Khan to Kabul and presented him a medal and pledged to build a high school for girls in his village.

“Providing education to children is a responsibility of households, but Mia Khan’s case was exceptional because for years he had to ride or walk his two daughters for miles,” the ministry’s public affairs chief, Noorya Nazhat, told Arab News on Sunday.

“The (education) minister has promised to build a school near his home.”

Nazhat did not specify the details of the school project, such as its cost and size or when it would be completed.

Khan could not be reached for comment.

Afghan women have made huge strides in the country since they were banned during Taliban rule of 1996 to 2001 from schools, work, politics and going outside without a male relative.

But Afghanistan is still not an easy place to be a woman, with forced marriages, domestic violence and high maternal mortality rates prevalent nationwide, particularly in rural areas.

BACKGROUND

Arab News highlighted illetarate laborer Mia Khan’s passion for his daughters’ education in a story published last month.

Access to public life has improved, especially in cities such as the capital Kabul, where many women work outside the home and more than a quarter of members of Parliament are female.

However, four decades of war, from occupation to internal fighting, have destroyed the Afghan economy, rendering it one of the poorest in the world, with few jobs for a mostly young population.

Women occupy a particularly precarious place, as they face cultural barriers and hostility — not just from conservative family members, but also hard-line militant groups — for pursuing financial independence and greater equality.

Arab News highlighted Khan’s passion for his daughters’ education in a story published last month.

“You know, we don’t have any female doctors in our town,” Khan told Arab News in an interview.

“It is my ultimate wish to see my daughter as its first female doctor. I want her to serve humanity.”


Britain is at coronavirus tipping point, health minister says

Updated 9 min 5 sec ago

Britain is at coronavirus tipping point, health minister says

  • ‘The choice is either that everybody follows the rules ... or we will have to take more measures’
  • Second national lockdown a possible option
LONDON: Britain is at a tipping point on COVID-19, health minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday, warning that a second national lockdown could be imposed if people don’t follow government rules designed to stop the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 cases have risen sharply in recent weeks to more than 4,000 per day. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called it a second wave and stricter lockdown measures have been introduced in areas across the country — with London possibly next in line.
“The nation faces a tipping point and we have a choice,” Hancock told Sky News. “The choice is either that everybody follows the rules ... or we will have to take more measures.”
Hancock later told the BBC that a second national lockdown was possible option.
“I don’t rule it out, I don’t want to see it,” he said.
Johnson announced fines of up to $12,900 on Saturday for people in England who break new rules requiring them to self-isolate if they have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
In addition to tighter rules on social gatherings across the country, several cities and regions in Britain have had ‘local lockdowns’ imposed, limiting even more strictly when, where and how many people can meet up socially.
Asked about comments from London mayor Sadiq Khan, who said on Friday new restrictions were increasingly likely in the capital, Hancock said: “I’ve had discussions this week with the Mayor of London, and the teams are meeting today to discuss further what might be needed.”
Hancock was also asked on Times Radio about the possibility of Londoners being told to work from home later this week, and said: “Well, I wouldn’t rule it out.”
The opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said he would support whatever measures the government brings forward, but criticized the government’s testing system for not having the capacity to deal with increased demand as schools returned.