Binders and Bullets: Attacks at Educational Institutions
Terrorism and tyranny are the two words that are on everybody’s lips at present. News channels across the globe are talking about recent terrorist attacks that have been taking place in Afganistan. School buildings have been bombed, students are being held as hostages, several teachers have been killed. But despite its heinous nature, these attacks on schools and colleges came to no one’s shock. Walking through history, we see a trend dictating how despotism must dig the tomb of tome first to claim the reins of a nation. So why does terrorism always aim for educational institutions? Why must children get dragged into the dirty wars of diplomacy and violence? Why - it’s all we want to know. Here with more, is Perspectoverse’s Soha Ali Shaik.
“Children are like buds in a garden and should be carefully and lovingly nurtured, as they are the future of the nation and the citizens of tomorrow,” is what Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru once recited before an audience of millions. One might argue that this is reason enough to explore this sensitive subject. Violence has always been a wastteful, stubborn and barbarian way of getting people to listen to what you have to say, to get things done and to gain power and leverage, which is precisely the way most terrorist groups function. Admittedly, they make us question our own human traits and beliefs.
Over the past few decades, terrorist organisations have been targeting schools and all sorts of educational institutes as if with a set objective in mind. Educational institutions are seen as ‘soft’ targets because they are often lacking any sense of proper security, which makes them all the more convenient to target. This reason alone can immediately catch the attention of the entire world, let alone the respective nation’s government, which is most likely to submit in cases where matters stand a chance to be talked over via negotiations.
The most recent of such attacks was one that took place on 19th April, 2022 at Abdul Rahim Shahid Secondary School in the Shia Hazara neighbourhood in Kabul, Afghanistan. The school was one of the largest schools in the city with about 16,000 boys attending on roll call everyday. This attack was one of the most disturbing attacks in the history of mankind with about three explosions that resulted in the death of 6 boys and a much larger number of them were injured.
Such attacks come and go but always end up leaving scars in the minds and hearts of the people which don’t always tend to heal over time. Some parents wouldn’t even have had a chance to have a proper conversation with their child before sending them to school only to come home to the silence of their absence and the horror of their death. Children are said to be the most honest and precious version of mankind. These children are also said to be our tomorrow but what if one day we come home to a ‘no tomorrow’. A tomorrow without these young minds who didn’t get a chance to live a life and chase their dreams and ambitions. The fear of having a tomorrow and not a single soul whom we can rely on to make the world a better place is worse than a nightmare that most countries can’t afford to risk.
Politically speaking, a now adolescent child will sooner or later become a full-grown adult who will eventually pay taxes, earn an income, contribute to the national income of the said country, cast a vote which results in the fate of the competing parties. In a world where numbers and statistics are all that count, the idea of losing even a single future citizen that has the chance to be an asset to the country is a risk the government must not take.
So, attacking an educational institution is the easiest way to send a message to society and an even more difficult action for the government to deny or ignore. Hence, proving a more effective way to get what they want without having to wait for long. Most terrorist attacks at schools roughly last for 6-8 hours or in the worst case scenarios, they last for a minimum of 2 days which is still a ridiculously short amount of time to get into negotiations with the government. Breaking into educational institutions is relatively a lot easier than any other government building or a commercial place because of the strict security surveillance and a larger crowd to tackle.
Yet again, the question arises, can governments really afford to have such a poor hold over the surveillance and security of their future doctors, engineers, civil servants and lawyers? Every child receiving an education is given a promise of a bright future. That future is bound to bring bounty for not just any individual who earns said bounty, but also the rest of the nation that benefits from the generation of wealth. Can the top brass of nations all over the world really take the loss of sinking its investment in a generation of future citizens and workforce? Setting aside the moral aspect of these instances of wanton vandalism, having educational institutions being so vulnerable to foreign attacks seems like a mistake resulting in a possible outcome that shall affect not only the morale of the nation, but the future economic and financial status of the country.
Regardless, there does not seem to be any kind of hurry in acting on this conclusion. In fact, most of us remain oblivious to this fact, despite events such as the attack on Abdul Rahim Shahid Secondary School in Kabul, Afghanistan staring right at us in our faces. How much more can our children take? How many more shootings and bombings must we read about before the world’s leaders recognise this trend and take the necessary action? Only time shall tell.
Written by Soha Ali Shaikh
Illustrated by Urvi Agarwal