According to the Vienna Declaration, States have a duty to ensure that education is aimed at strengthening the respect of human rights. In South Asia, current trends in education, if ignored, will deprive millions of their right to development and potentially breed another generation of religious extremists.
It is well-known that the menace of terrorism in South Asia has largely grown out of religious schools, the so-called Madrassas. These schools that oftentimes instil a distorted, ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam, still flourish uninhibitedly in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Taliban and the dreaded Haqqani network were born from such Madrassas in Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Taibah, Jaish-e-Muhammed and other terrorist organisations continue operating such terror-factories in Pakistan under the protection of the country’s powerful intelligence agency.
The International Community must not be appeased with the Taliban’s false promises of education. What is schooling worth, if instead of raising a workforce capable of leading their country onto a path of peace and development, creates foot soldiers indoctrinated into a worldview defined by misogyny and hatred?
The lack of economic independence of the Taliban and their patron State next door has a silver lining: it gives leverage to the international community. Leverage that must be used to prevent the loss of another generation of young Afghans to Madrassa-bred radicalism.
Placing conditions on diplomatic and economic engagement to ensure human rights-conform education, without which the right to development can hardly be realized, is the most meaningful investment we can make in Afghanistan’s future.