Themes from Stones into Schools
The institution of education in many regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan is virtually nonexistent. Many girls don’t have access to schools (Stones into Schools p.4) and those that do usually don’t graduate from high school. While Greg Mortenson’s Stones into Schools and the documentary The Miseducation of Pakistan deal with two different areas, they both show many similar themes.
One major recurring theme that is evident in both Stones into Schools and The Miseducation of Pakistan is the suppression of women. Both works discussed how women in the region had traditionally been discouraged from attending school or entering the workplace. The Taliban was especially opposed to women’s rights. When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, one of the first things they did was close every girls’ school and university (Stones into Schools p.74). Over 100,000 elementary school girls and 8,000 female university students were forbidden from attending their schools. Women were only allowed to leave their homes if they were with a close male relative and they had to wear a blue burka. If a woman showed her ankles she could have been whipped. While Pakistan didn’t have some of the cruel laws imposed on women during the Taliban’s regime in Afghanistan, women were still viewed as lesser than men. Many girls were forced by their parents to stop attending school (The Miseducation of Pakistan). Both Stones into Schools and The Miseducation of Pakistan make note of this. Mortenson tells of how a woman was told by her own mother that “women should work instead of reading books” and that “books will poison your mind you will become a worthless wife and mother” (Stones into Schools p.4). Unfortunately, as a result of this mind set, extremists are still able to gather recruits to join jihads. Women’s literacy in these regions has been shown to decrease the number of people that follow the extremists (Stones into Schools p. 13).
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