At least ten schools in Afghanistan have been attacked since school began on March 23. These attacks are ten more in a long line of attacks; the Afghan Ministry of Education told IRIN, a United Nations (UN) humanitarian news service, that there were 2,450 terrorist attacks on schools from March 2006 to February of 2008.
The attackers are believed to be Taliban insurgents who target schools because they oppose the education of girls and claim the school curriculum is "un-Islamic." Last year, extremists killed two girls outside a girls' school in Afghanistan, sending the message to women and children to stay away from schools.
According to UNICEF, the UN children's rights organization, six million children attended school during the first week it was opened. IRIN reports that 35 percent of these students are female. Organizations like UNICEF have been fighting the gender disparity in Afghanistan's education system. Only 18 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 24 can read, compared to 51 percent of men.
After the attacks on schools last year, Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Representative to Afghanistan, said, "We are saddened by these tragic events. UNICEF is concerned by these incidents and the intimidation in some communities aimed at stopping families from sending children to school. Schools of course are a visible sign of reconstruction and progress, and there are those who perhaps fear such progress. What I do know is that communities want to see their children get an education, they recognize the value of learning – and that is underlined by the millions of children who are now enrolled in schools."