Girls living in the mountainous region of Pakistan called the Swat Valley face many barriers to going to school. Nine out of ten women cannot read or write, putting them at a clear disadvantage to their male counterparts.
First the Taliban, Islamic extremists fighting to wrestle control away from the Pakistani government, forbid girls from going to school and attacked them when they did. Nearly 276 schools in Swat have been blown up by the Taliban-- the majority being girls' schools.
"The Taliban just wants to stop girls going to school. They want to end all schooling for girls," said a young girl who lives in the region.
Then, the worst floods in generations washed away entire villages creating a humanitarian crisis. Nearly 8,000 schools were obliterated by the waters that swept through the valley. Since then, the Taliban have intensified their assault on all-girls schools across the northwest region.
But in one region of Swat the locals are fighting back. The Pakistani military has forced some of the Taliban out of the region and a vacated Taliban commander's house has been turned into a girls school that houses 812 students.
"I believe in God, and so I do not fear the Taliban," said a teacher at the school. "For now, I'm just happy I can teach my students in this building, even if it's not a proper school."
"The Taliban blew up both schools, but, after a few months, we were able to resume classes in what was left. But now the flood has washed both buildings away." --Sharaf Zamhant, headmaster of a local Swat Valley school
"They want people to become illiterate." --local resident of the Swat Valley
"There's nothing in the Koran, the jirga members told me, that rules out educating girls." --Jonathan Miller, reporter for Independent Television News
1. Where is Pakistan?
2. What do you know about the Taliban?
3. What does it mean to be "illiterate"?
1. Why do you suppose the Taliban are destroying schools in Pakistan?
2. Would you attend school in the Taliban commander's old house? Why or why not?
3. In the video a number of the little girls said they wanted to become doctors when they grow up. Why do you think this was the ideal profession for many of them?
4. Between the floods and the Taliban, what do you think has become the biggest hindrance to education in rural Pakistan?