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Afghan girls given English and computer lessons

Afghanistan, July 8, 2012

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Ben Farmer

The Telegraph
July, 2012

A British-funded scheme to give computer and English classes to Afghan girls is expanding throughout Helmand province, apparently capitalising on hints of a shift in the Taliban's draconian policy on girls' education.

Colleges teaching the courses, plus skills such as tailoring and embroidery, are opening across the province this summer, in areas which only a year ago were known more for bitter fighting than education.

Perhaps what is even more extraordinary is that these lessons are being held with the knowledge and acceptance of the Taliban.

Mercy Corps, the charity which runs the vocational colleges with the backing of £5 million of British money, knows from local leaders that the Taliban are fully aware of the scheme.

During their hard line Islamic government of the 1990s, Taliban leaders were notorious for forbidding girls' education.

But after lengthy deliberation within their ranks, they have raised no objection to these particular classes, staff have been told....

..."I'm not sure it's a softer stance, I think you would call it a more politically aware stance about their previous shortcomings on education," said David Haines, Mercy Corps' Afghanistan director.

"That's not to say they have become wildly liberal.

"I think they know that education is the will of the people. Every community we work in tells us that education is important to them."