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Volume 448: debated on Thursday 29 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) primary schools, (b) middle schools and (c) high schools there were in the Helmand region in each year since 2003; and how many of these schools have been closed due to (i) security risks and (ii) activities of insurgent groups. (80432)

In light of the security situation in Helmand detailed education statistics are difficult to obtain.

According to a 2005 survey by the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, there were 253 schools in Helmand. Of 117,000 students, approximately 8,900 were girls. According to Helmand provincial Government's Department of Education there are now 224 Government of Afghanistan approved schools in the province. Of those, only 64 are currently operating in dedicated buildings. 66 schools are currently closed due to destroyed facilities or threats against teachers. To date we have been unable to obtain a more detailed breakdown of how many of these schools were closed because of Taliban action.

The UK and other international partners are working closely with the Afghan Government to improve the quality and accessibility of education for all children across Afghanistan, in particular girls who were deprived of the opportunity under the Taliban.