V. The Inadequate Response of the Afghan Government and its International Supporters to Attacks on Education
I think we know girls dont go to school. We need programs or strategies that we can use to get girls to go to school. . . . Its hard to do because of the security situation and the low capacity of the government, I would like to see NGOs used more because they can go to places where the government cannot. But the government sees NGOs as sucking up money. We need a government that is in the drivers seat.406
The Afghan government and its international supporters have largely failed to provide adequate assistance to promote and protect the development of Afghanistans education system. Neither the Afghan government nor the international community have developed a strategy to end attacks on girls, teachers, and schools; to keep schools open; or to make education accessible to insecure and rural areas. Such a strategy must include preventing attacks, monitoring attacks and their effects, and responding to attacks once they occur (these ideas are developed more fully below in the Recommendations).
There are signs that the Afghan government and the international community are now beginning to recognize the crisis posed by the escalating attacks on education. As cited at the beginning of this report, President Karzai has made strong statements deploring such attacks and reiterating the importance of education. If you stop sending your children to school because one school is set ablaze or a child is threatened, or if a teacher is martyred, then you make your enemy succeed and make yourself fail, he said on International Womens Day 2006. If a million times they are threatened, send your children back to school a million times. If a million times schools are torched, build them a million times so that this nation can be freed from fear and horror.407 The Special Representative of the Secretary General, Thomas Koenig, who assumed his position in January 2006, immediately condemned attacks on schools and appealed to those who disagree with the countrys development to leave Afghanistan's children alone.408 And the U.N.s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Vernor Munoz Villalobos, condemned attacks on schools after an attack in Kunar province killed and wounded several students.409
Notwithstanding such useful statements, not much has improved on the ground in terms of monitoring, preventing, or responding to the attacks on teachers, students, and schools. As pointed out above, the effect of insecurity on education is a particularly sensitive topic for the government and international community. The resuscitation of the educational system after the fall of the Taliban is one of the major successes of the present government and its international backers, and, as already pointed out, is often touted as such. But the lack of monitoring and the pressure to present a positive image about advances in education in Afghanistan have impeded accurate reporting on the impact of insecurity on education.410 Human Rights Watch encountered a shared impression by the Afghan government, UNICEF, and some NGO education providers that reporting attacks and school closures could cause donors to cut off much-needed funding. This concern may well be valid but is not a justification for covering up the problem.
Compounding the problem is that the Ministry of Education is severely constrained by a lack of institutional capacity and funding, a point emphasized by everyone involved with education at every level with whom we spoke.One U.N. official explained: Its hard to say if the government is doing enough because of the lack of capacity. They cant even do a survey to find out how many girls attend in a district. When the level is so low, its hard to say they are not doing enough. How can they do more? Certainly things are happening but without management.411 The Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit also noted in 2004:
In addition to limited resources, the system is plagued with few qualified educators, managers or technicians. There is a complete absence of any information technology, and there is no communication system to connect Ministry of Education and provincial education departments (PEDs). Physical facilities at provincial departments and district education subdepartments are very basic with little or no electricity, let alone means of communication, computers, or transport to support school activities. Furthermore, institutional capacity in the provincial education departments and district education subdepartments is limited, with little experience in priority setting, data-supported planning, or management of service delivery.412
Although the situation has improved somewhat in terms of basic equipment and infrastructure, the Ministry of Education has still not formulated an adequate response to the current crisis. It is clear that any response must be formulated and implemented from Kabul, because the educational system in Afghanistan is, like every other part of the government, extremely centralized. In its survey of the Afghan government bureaucracy, the Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit explained:
[A]lmost all key decisions are made in Kabul. Even the provincial and district offices have very limited decision-making authority, and community managed schools are unheard of, except those sponsored by NGOs and donors. From curriculum development, to teacher training, to approving the recruitment of teachers and school heads, selection and production of texts, and, especially, controlling financing and spending, the central Ministry of Education almost completely dominates decision-making. With few exceptions, a culture of dependency on the center pervades the education sector in Afghanistan.413
One sign of the lack of a strategy is that there is currently no domestic or international institution in Afghanistan that has a full picture of the attacks on education that are taking place and their impact. Collecting and analyzing this information is necessary to understand the causes and extent of the problem. Yet even in areas where the government is present, it is reluctant to share, or even gather, information that may indicate that schools are not operating properly.
The Ministry of Education told Human Rights Watch that it does not monitor attacks on schools or their effects. This reflects in part the ministrys lack of basic data on education, including an accurate count of schools, teachers, and students. In addition, as documented above, attacks on schools have driven even local educational officials out of some districts. However, the failure to monitor also reflects a conscious attempt to avoid bad news. I dont think we have this information, Deputy Ministry Mohammad Sediq Patman told us. We dont bring information [on security incidents] to the center because it will have a negative effect on our morale.414
Probably the most comprehensive record of attacks is interspersed among the weekly security summaries distributed by the NGO security organization ANSO. ANSO does valuable work, but does not disaggregate this information to present a coherent picture of the security conditions specific to the education process. Furthermore, ANSOs information represents an essentially ad hoc system of record-keeping, without a focus on educational facilities, teachers, or students.
The United Nations also seems to lack a centralized, coordinated information clearing house on security threats to education. Both UNAMA and UNICEF are now independently collecting information, but, as far as we understand, do not share this information with each other. UNICEF does share its information with the Ministry of Education, but relies on its zonal offices, which are not present in every zone, to collect the data. As a result, UNICEFs database contains only a fraction of the total number of attacks and lacks even incidents widely reported in the press. UNAMAs human rights capacity has always been too small to provide adequate coverage and analysis of the countrys myriad human rights problems. UNAMA recently began tracking attacks through its gender, security, and human rights units, based on information from a range of sources, including its own staff and security reports, but this information is not comprehensive and was not shared with all parts of the United Nations as of May 2006.415 In addition, the World Food Program seems to be collecting information about attacks on schools, although it is unclear if this information is independently gathered or represents collaboration with other U.N. bodies.416
TheWorld Bank and USAID, the two largest international donors to education in Afghanistan, also do not have a clear view of the extent of the problems caused by insecurity. A World Bank education staff member told Human Rights Watch that it does not currently monitor attacks on schools, although such an effort would be useful: We dont touch attacks on girls schools. We only hear about them. Tracking them would be useful.417 USAID only collects information about attacks on its own education projects.418
Beyond basic notation of incidents of insecurity, there is little monitoring of the impact of such attacks, especially beyond the immediate wake of the event. UNICEF notes, regarding the cases it records, when a school has closed down. Areas to monitor should also include the effects of threats and violence against students and teachers, and student attendance, especially that of girls, in the aftermath of an incident when schools do not shut down. The impact on schools in surrounding areas should be recorded as well.
Human Rights Watch found nobody monitoring early warning signs for attacks, such as night letters, a school being located very near a district government office or being the only representation of government in an area, or other factors.
The lack of information about attacks on education reflects the overall institutional weakness of the Afghan government bureaucracy and the failure of the government and international community to prioritize this issue. Such information is critical both for addressing the effects of individual attacks and for crafting a strategy to prevent future attacks. However, information alone is not enough. Afghan and international institutions responsible for education must work closely with international and Afghan institutions responsible for security. No such cooperation is evident now. There is no institution in Afghanistan currently willing to take responsibility for securing the access of Afghan children to education, there is no nationwide policy for preventing attacks on schools, and there is no policy for ensuring individual schools receive assistance after an attack.
The Ministry of Education takes the position that ensuring security for education is beyond its mandate and capabilities. Mohammed Azam Karbalai, the head of the Ministry of Educations planning department, explained that: The Ministry of Education cant do anything about security. Maybe the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior, or ISAF or other forces.419
Karbalai went on explain that when the ministry receives word that a school building or tent has been destroyed, we refer it to the Ministry of Interior, and we try to reconstruct the building if it is possible. Also, we are working with the governor of provinces to pay attention to schools.420
The Afghan police do not prioritize protection of educational facilities, and at any rate are viewed as incapable of carrying out a strategic response. Mohammed Sediq Patman, the deputy minister of education, suggested that the police lacked the ability to resolve this crisis. The police cannot go there [places where schools are attacked]. . . We dont have this tradition in Afghanistan for police to protect schools. The people protect the schools.421
Human Rights Watch heard numerous complaints about the Afghan National Polices failure to investigate, or in some cases, respond at all to attacks on schools. While responses vary from place to place, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Watch reported to the Security Council in March that:
The police failed to adequately investigate these and other cases [of school burnings and killing of teachers in 2005 and early 2006] and in only a few cases has anyone been arrested in relation to attacks on schools. The police complain of limited capacity and lack of access to more insecure areas, reinforcing an environment of impunity and a climate of fear, particularly for those individuals, officials and community leaders supporting the Governments development agenda.422
Education officials at the local level consistently complained that they could not count on governmental security forces for assistance. One education official from Ghazni province put it succinctly: There is police there in [our district in Ghazni] but very weak. There is no army. The police is so weak that if anybody goes to them and asks for help, they say if you can provide us with security we will go with you, but otherwise not.423
The international response also lacks coordination. According to UNICEF, its policy is to provide tents and to replace damaged textbooks and furniture within five days; it seems unlikely that it would be able to do so given that, based on its records of attacks, it has been unaware of many of the attacks that have taken place. UNAMA and UNDP are drafting recommendations about responding to attacks. However, at present, there are no broader policies for systematically rebuilding schools, or preventing or addressing the ripple effect of attacks on schools and teachers. Officials in the Afghan government and international agencies working on education in Afghanistan by and large turn to international security forces for a response. As we set out below, these forces have failed to provide the necessary security environment.
Nationbuilding on the Cheap: the U.S.-led Coalition, ISAF, and Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)
For the past four years, when the international community has discussed security in Afghanistan, it has generally missed the mark, by focusing on whether and how many (or how few) troops international donors had contributed, and how many men the Afghan National Army and National Police could field. Instead of asking whether ordinary Afghans were secure, and feeling secure, the debate among security officials centered around the size and combat ability of the combined forces.
The international community, led by the United States, simply failed to provide Afghanistan with the political, economic, or security assistance commensurate with the nations needs after the fall of the Taliban.424 A March 2004 evaluation of the peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan by the British Department for International Development was blunt (but by no means alone) in its appraisal:
Whatever assessment criteria one useswhether it is compliance with the terms of the B[onn] A[greement] or broader international standards. . . there have been significant shortcomings in international efforts to consolidate peace. There has been a major mismatch between the ambitions of the international community and their willingness to commit the requisite military, political and financial resources. It has been . . . a bargain basement model. This is an attempt to rebuild a collapsed state according to a favourable model but with minimal resources.425
Security assistance to Afghanistan has consistently lagged far below that of recent post-conflict situations, such as East Timor, the Balkans, and, of course, Iraq. Security assistance to Afghanistan has also consistently lagged behind the obvious and tangible needs of the country. For instance, by mid-2002, when Afghan and international observers loudly and clearly issued warnings about growing insecurity and criminality, the United States fielded only about 10,000 troops, concentrated on the southern border, while NATO countries fielded about 4,000 troops, stationed only in Kabul.426
Halfway through 2002, U.S. interest and resources were increasingly channeled to Iraq.427 The often heated debate between the United States and its allies over the Iraq war also affected peacekeeping in Afghanistan, as some allies signaled their dissatisfaction by withholding assistance even in Afghanistan, while others sought to indicate their broader support for the United States by committing to helping the United States in Afghanistan, but not in Iraq. As explained eloquently by Ahmad Rashid, one of the most experienced observers of Afghanistan:
How is it, then, that Afghanistan is near collapse once again? To put it briefly, what has gone wrong has been the invasion of Iraq: Washington's refusal to take state-building in Afghanistan seriously and instead waging a fruitless war in Iraq. For Afghanistan the results have been too few Western troops, too little money, and a lack of coherent strategy and sustained policy initiatives on the part of Western and Afghan leaders. The Bonn conference created the scaffolding to build the new Afghan structure, but what was consistently missing were the bricks and running water. Inside the scaffolding there is still only the barest shell.428
The chief indicator of the international communitys confused security strategy in Afghanistan was the fact that since the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan has had two separate foreign troop contingents, with two different missions: first, that of the United States (and members of its coalition) and second, the NATO-supplied, U.N.-mandated International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF. The U.S.-led coalition (under the official name of Combined Forced CommandAfghanistan, or CFC-A) has maintained a force between 16,000 and 23,000 in Afghanistan (compared with the 140,000 to 180,000 posted in Iraq, a country of comparable size and population, but incomparably easier terrain). The U.S. forces remain focused on carrying out the United States strategic interests by fighting against Al Qaeda and allied Taliban forces in southern and southeastern Afghanistan. This force did not have as its mission the protection of Afghans or of humanitarian aid providers, except to the extent that such actions pacified or mollified local populations, and, as pointed out above, the United States opposed the deployment of peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan until 2003.
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) did have as its primary mission providing security, but the United States putative allies, quick to wag a finger in disapproval of the perceived failure of the United States to embrace peacekeeping, lacked the will and the capacity to provide effective security assistance to Afghanistan. Afghan political leaders, NGOs, experts, and even Lakhdar Brahimi, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General and head of U.N. operations in Afghanistan, failed in their repeated calls on the U.N. Security Council to expand the geographic coverage and mandate of the ISAF. Afghans repeatedly told Human Rights Watch that they were amused, offended, and bewildered by the spectacle of the Secretary General of NATO traveling from one capital to another, hat in hand, as the Secretary General put it, to beg for the logistical support necessary to allow NATO to begin its expansion.429
The shortchanging of security in Afghanistan has continued to date. In 2005 the United States declared that it would withdraw 2,500-3,000 of its relatively modest contingent. NATO began moving into southern Afghanistan in late 2005, as a Canadian force took over security responsibilities in Kandahar, a Dutch force moved into Oruzgan, and a fairly large British force (numbering about 3,300) was dispatched to Helmand, the hotbed of narcotics trade and opposition activity. But this expansion took place fitfully and only after tremendous hand-wringing, as NATO capitals faced the possibility that the transatlantic alliance would face real combatand significant numbers of casualtiesfor the first time in its history.
The slow withdrawal of U.S. forces and the nervous expansion of NATO troops caused many Afghans, up to and including President Karzai, to worry about the international communitys commitment to Afghanistans security at precisely the moment when the threat posed by opposition groups and criminals was soaring.430 Predictably, those opposed to the central government were heartened by the indications, and have stepped up their campaign of words and attacks in order to intimidate Afghans into following their will.
Unwilling or unable to provide sufficient military and economic resources for Afghanistan, and facing deteriorating security and slowing reconstruction in Afghanistan, the United States and NATO have offered the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) as the answer.
The PRTs have not been incorporated into any coherent nationwide development strategy by the Afghan government until very recently, and still lack an effective coordination mechanism with international donors. It is impossible to thoroughly assess the conduct of the PRTs because there exists no (public) nation-wide, systematic monitoring of PRTs, their projects, and the funding they receive.431 The major, publicly available, analyses carried out by governmental or academic institutions of donor countries have criticized the current PRT strategy as being incoherent and lacking sufficient resources.432 As a result, these commentators have generally called on the United States and NATO to refocus their efforts on providing security and governance.433
The United States unveiled the concept of PRTs in late 2002. The PRTs were initially formed as a result of the United States refusal to either commit sufficient troops for a more traditional peacekeeping mission or to allow other countries to create a U.N.-mandated peacekeeping mission. The PRTs are small military units (ranging in size from 80 to over 300) incorporating a small contingent of civilians with a development or diplomatic background with a mandate to carry out development and humanitarian projects in a hearts and minds campaign to win over the local population and extend the writ of the central government.434
The PRT terms of reference state that they will assist the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to extend its authority, to facilitate the development of a stable and secure environment in the identified area of operations, and enable SSR [security sector reform] and reconstruction efforts. Each PRT is under the direct command of its own donor country, with its development strategy and military rules of engagement determined from its national capitals. The PRTs also operate Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) projects throughout their areas of operations in order to support the Government of Afghanistan in maintaining and expanding security throughout the country, to support stabilisation, reconstruction and nation-building activities .435
This program began slowly, with three U.S. PRTs in southern Afghanistan. It took nearly a year before the first NATO PRT ventured outside Kabul. As a result, until this year, most of Afghanistans southern provinces had no PRT presence at all.436 As of this writing, the United States (and coalition partners) maintained fourteen PRTs, while NATO countries had established nine under ISAF command.437
The PRTs faced a skeptical, and at times hostile, reception from development aid workers, who doubted whether they could effectively provide security assistance, and worried that the militarization of aid would jeopardize civilian aid projects and increase the risk to aid workers without materially improving humanitarian assistance.438
Most aid organizations in Afghanistan took the initial position that the PRTs violated the core principles of international humanitarian assistanceconcern for humanity, independence, and impartiality,439 as set out by the United Nations and the worlds largest humanitarian relief organizations.440
PRTs have been successful to some extent in improving security in the limited areas they operate.441 but their performance as aid providers has generally been viewed as ineffective or inefficient.442 As put in a 2005 overview of the relations between PRTs and humanitarian aid providers in Afghanistan:
When military forces provide assistance to a civilian population during conflict, it is not for humanitarian purposes but, rather, to further policies of their national governments, provide force protection, and meet their international legal obligations. Redundant assessments conducted by military personnel, inadequate coordination with civilian assistance providers leading to duplication of effort, and a disregard for the long-term capacity of the local population to sustain their projects are among the most frequently voiced criticisms of military PRT assistance projects.443
Notwithstanding such criticism, most aid organizations operating in Afghanistan have had to accept the existence of the PRTs, in part because of a recognition that there are areas of Afghanistan where civilian humanitarian groups simply cannot operate due to insecurity,444 and in part because of a recognition that for now at least, the PRTs are the best that the international community is willing to offer the people of Afghanistan.445 Nevertheless, communications with nongovernmental organizations have been and remain spotty and hampered by mutual suspicion and incomprehension by both sides.446
However, Human Rights Watch heard consistent criticism about the failure of PRTs in southern and southeastern Afghanistan to provide durable, useful reconstruction. As one long-term Western observer in Ghazni told us, The PRTs build schools, but there is no follow up to see if there is a teacher there a year later.447
At this point it is incontrovertible that PRTs have been unable to materially improve either Afghanistans security situation or meet its development needs, particularly in the southa fact admitted by the U.S. government.448 The PRTs can be a useful tool for providing security, and maybe even limited reconstruction, in some areas. However, they are not sufficient for providing the security and development necessary for the people of Afghanistan.
 Human Rights Watch interview with World Bank official, Kabul, December 4, 2005.
 Attacks depriving 100,000 Afghan students: president, Agence France-Presse, March 8, 2006.Shortly thereafter, President Karzai appointed Hanif Atmar, who had established a good track record as an effective administrator at the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, as the Minister of Education.
 See New U.N. chief in Afghanistan appeals to militants to stop attacking schools, Associated Press, February 23, 2006.
 Special Rapporteur On Right To Education Condemns Attack On Salabagh School In Afghanistan, U.N. Press Release, April 19, 2006.
 U.S. GAO, Afghanistan Reconstruction.
 Human Rights Watch interview with U.N. official, Kabul, December 5, 2005.
 Evans, et al, A Guide to Government in Afghanistan, p. 116.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad Sediq Patman, Deputy Minister of Education, Kabul, December 14, 2005.
 E-mail from staffer of UNAMA human rights unit, June 17, 2006.
 World Food Programme, Emergency Report n. 24.
 Human Rights Watch interview with World Bank official, Kabul, December 4, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Richard Steelman and Chris Broughton, USAID, Office of South Asian Affairs, Washington, D.C., April 11, 2006.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammed Azim Karbalai, Director of Planning Department, Ministry of Education, Kabul, December 15, 2005.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammed Sediq Patman, Deputy Minister of Education, Kabul, December 14, 2005.
 Advisory Services and Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights: Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan and on the Achievements of Technical Assistance in the Field of Human Rights, U.N. Doc E/CN.4/2006/108, March 3, 2006, para. 28.
 Human Rights Watch interview with education officials, Ghazni, December 19, 2005.
 In the first year after the Taliban, over four-fifths of spending in Afghanistan focused on the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, while less than a tenth went to humanitarian assistance and less than one-twentieth for reconstruction. Bhatia, Lanigan, and Wilkinson, Minimal Investments, Minimal Results: The Failure of Security Policy in Afghanistan.
 Jonathan Goodhand with Paul Bergne, Evaluation of the Conflict Prevention Pools, Case Study: Afghanistan, Department for International Development, March 2004, p. 23.
 For more analysis of the post-Taliban security problems in Afghanistan, see Saman Zia-Zarifi, Losing the Peace in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch World Report 2004, available at http://hrw.org/wr2k4/5.htm.
 Rashid, Afghanistan: On the Brink; Seymour Hersh, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib (New York: Harper Collins, 2004), pp. 45-52; 65-71.
 Rashid, Afghanistan: On the Brink.
 NATO Members Bridge Differences, Achieve Unity at Istanbul Summit, U.S. State Department press release, June 29, 2004, available at http://usinfo.state.gov/is/Archive/2004/Jun/29-386230.html, retrieved on June 17, 2006.
 Rubin, Afghanistans Uncertain Transition , p.9.
 Jakobsen, PRTs in Afghanistan; Goodhand with Bergne, Evaluation of the Conflict Prevention Pools: Afghanistan.
 Ibid.; The U.S. Experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan: Lessons Learned, United States Institute of Peace, October 2005.
 Barnett Rubin, Testimony before the Committee on International Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives, March 9, 2006; Michael McNerney, Stabilization and Reconstruction in Afghanistan: Are PRTs a Model or a Muddle?, Parameters (U.S. Army War College Quarterly), Winter 2005-2006, p.32.
 The exact size and civilian component of PRTs varies. The largest PRT, operated by Germany in Kunduz, numbers about 375 staff; most PRTs are closer to one hundred military and civilian personnel. Generally, civilians account for 5 to 10 percent of a PRTs total size. Michael Dziedzic and Colonel Michael Seidl, Provincial Reconstruction Teams and Military Relations with International and Nongovernmental Organizations in Afghanistan, United States Institute of Peace Special Report, September 2005, p. 4.
 Rashid, Afghanistan: On the Brink.
 Information available at http://www.canada-afghanistan.gc.ca/prov_reconstruction-en.asp.
 Dziedzic, Provincial Reconstruction Teams and Military Relations with International and Nongovernmental Organizations in Afghanistan.
 Save the Children, Provincial Reconstruction Teams and Humanitarian-Military Relations in Afghanistan, 2004, p.3, available at http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/darfur/uploads/military/Military%20PRTs%20in%20Afghanistan_Sep04%20by%20SCUK.pdf.
 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/182, Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian Emergency Assistance of the United Nations, December 19, 1991, available at http://www.un.org/Depts/dha/res46182.htm; The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief, available at http://ww.ifrcorg/publicat/conduct/index.asp.
 Perito, The U.S. Experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams; Jakobsen, PRTs in Afghanistan.
 Dziedzic and Seidl, Provincial Reconstruction Teams, p.9.
Jakobsen, PRTs in Afghanistan.
 Rubin, Testimony before the Committee on International Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives; Perito, The U.S. Experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan: Lessons Learned; Dziedzic and Seidl, Provincial Reconstruction Teams.
 Human Rights Watch interview with U.N. official, Gardez, December 5, 2005.
 U.S. GAO, Afghanistan Reconstruction; Perito, The U.S. Experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams.