"This is a heinous, cowardly act against students and a teacher whose only crime was to be in school," said UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan Catherine Mbengue. "By attacking students and their teacher, the perpetrators are attacking children's right to an education and threatening the very fabric of Afghan society."
The attack took place in Qalai Saeeda girls' school, located in Pul Alam, near Kabul. Two gunmen on motorbikes opened fire as teachers and students were leaving school.
More than six million children in Afghanistan headed back to school in March this year, a considerable achievement for a country where years of war have left a heavy toll on the education system.
However, UNICEF is concerned that similar incidents - and the intimidation aimed at stopping families from sending girls to school - could undo some of the excellent work undertaken so far in the education sector.
Although school enrolment has increased in the past few years, only 66 per cent of boys and 40 per cent of girls of the country's school-aged children are attending classes.
"The sight of girls in school is an obvious sign of progress, and there are those who are afraid of such progress," Mbengue said. "However, I do know that communities in Afghanistan want to see their children get an education because they recognize the value of learning."
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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