January 11th, 2011
07:23 AM ET

Taliban casts long shadow over Afghan schools

"An apple," English teacher Asadullah writes and reads out on the board. A simple word, perhaps, but here speaking and teaching English is something of a novelty and for the U.S. military and Afghan government a success - albeit small.

It would not have been possible four months ago when soldiers from the 101st Airborne arrived in Andar district in Afghanistan's Ghazni province - the first American presence in the area in two years.

"The school was empty, it was essentially a ghost town," Captain Justin Quisenberry recalled. "We found a passerby and asked, 'where are all the students, the teachers?' He said it had been closed for a couple of years, the Taliban threatened us. It's just not a safe place to have classes."

An indication of just how powerful the Taliban has been in this area is the turnout for the country's September elections. Just three people out of the district's 110,000 residents voted.

Classes only just resumed here.

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