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Pencils and Bullets

Having the chance to attend school, two Turkmen girls in Afghanistan reveal their hopes and fears for the future.

Last Modified: 09 Oct 2013 13:14
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Filmmaker: Melek Demir

Considerably improved access to education, especially for girls, is perhaps one of the most dramatic social changes in Afghanistan in the last 12 years.

They sent us threatening letters saying: 'Don't send your teachers or daughters to school.' Girls were scared, coming to school hiding under their burqas, completely covered. We taught in fear.

Zulfiye Muradi, teacher

Since 2001, when the Taliban were toppled from power by US-backed Afghan forces, three million girls have returned to school. Women were previously banned from work and education under Taliban rule.

But periodic attacks against female students, their teachers and their school buildings, continue.

And fears grow that gains in girls’ education could be traded away as Western forces prepare to leave and the Afghan government seeks peace talks with the Taliban.

In this film we follow two young girls from the minority Turkmen community in northern Afghanistan as they get the chance to attend school.

Hayt Gul wants an education rather than sitting at home carpet-weaving with her mother. Nooriya wants to become a doctor. Both are keen students who seek to shine in their class.

Through these two young girls, the film explores the current situation and future prospect for girls’ education in Afghanistan, and looks at the efforts of a minority to educate its children and improve their lot in a world where local and external players fight for power and influence in a dangerous and unrelenting manner.

Al Jazeera World can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday: 0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200; Monday: 0100; Tuesday: 0600.

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