Humanitarian activist Greg Mortenson built a legacy out of building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- a legacy that a recent 60 Minutes piece and investigation by journalist Jon Krakauer found was largely disingenuous. Mortenson's organization, the Central Asia Institute (CAI), has claimed enormous success in its school-building endeavors: As of 2010, CAI reports it has established over 170 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, providing education to over 68,000 students. The investigation alleges that Mortenson lied about parts of his personal story -- including the especially inspirational bit where, lost and sick, he stumbled into a small village near the mountain he had been climbing, K2, was nursed back to health by villagers, and vowed to build them a school. 60 Minutes said it went to 30 of Mortenson's schools and found about half empty, built by someone else, or not actually receiving support from Mortenson's organization.
To be sure, building schools has been a central element of development efforts in the region and a way to fight terrorism and combat Islamic extremism. But in the real schools of Afghanistan and Pakistan, a much different and more nuanced picture of the battle to educate millions emerges.
Above, in the small village of Dand, Afghanistan, one of Cheplany Primary School's landowners crosses paths with Kamilah, a student at the school, in June 2006. The school was built by an NGO in 2004 on land donated by the headmaster. The school was burned in May 2006, reportedly by the Taliban.