(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Afghanistan’s worsening security has forced about 1,000 schools to close this year, more than double last year’s total, adding to problems that children face in getting an education, officials said. Education officials fear next year could be even worse if Taliban insurgents seize more territory. “Our students are the first victims of the war,” said Mujib Mehrdad, education ministry spokesman. “If the Taliban continue to gain strength, gains we have made could easily disappear,” he said, adding that 24 of the 34 provinces had been forced to shut some schools due to insecurity. Afghanistan’s education system has made significant gains since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001. Before then, girls were excluded from formal education altogether and fewer than 1 million boys went to school.