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Graduation Exams in the Open Air. For now

Jan 18, 2010

A day in Afghan school. Read the story

It is half of December and there are winter school holidays now in Afghan schools. The same applies also to the secondary school in the village of Pol-e-Kandahar in the north of Logar. At first glance it is a normal teaching day; however, after entering a dusty courtyard, we witness an unusual event. Instead of sitting in their classrooms, there are dozens of boys sitting on the ground and taking down some notes.

«The final tests just run here», says Director Ali Ahmad. He explains that just like in our country, also in Afghanistan there are long school holidays after which children progress to the next grade. However, at first it is necessary to pass tests from all subjects; otherwise there is a risk of classic school failure.

During the interview Ali Ahmad complains about the condition of the school, which, however, is not beside the Logar average. «We have little space and the number of students is still increasing. According to the norms of the Ministry of Education, there should not be more than 30 pupils in the classroom but we routinely have as many as 60 of them. That is why we have to organize the test in the outdoor courtyard.»  In those two old buildings we can surprisingly accommodate in this way up to 1500 students who, due to capacity problems, have to attend lessons in morning and afternoon shifts.

However, after a few minutes Engineer Muhammad Júnas reminds us why we are here. This thirty-two years old builder supervises the construction of a new sixteen-class school financed by the Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team and, in surprisingly fluent English he informs the civilian specialists about the course of the construction. «Contrary to the local practice, we build a two-story building here, so the control is very important. It has to be said that with respect to Afghan conditions, they proceed well.  Compared to our country, the quality of the construction is quite different, so that we have to be tolerant very often,» says Engineer Alena Lišková from the Reconstruction Team.

Lack of space is only one aspect of the Afghan education affected by conflicts. Most schools lack the necessary equipment, some of them are only clay houses without windows, children often have to sit on the ground or they have lessons in tents. Teachers are not certificated and only 20% of them have the necessary education. As a result there is high illiteracy (especially women) and overcrowded schools.

That is why the Reconstruction Team has already built, reconstructed or extended already nine schools and further three schools have been under reconstruction at present. «We are grateful to Czechs. Education is the most important sphere where we need help. Only educated people will ensure Afghanistan’s peaceful future,» concludes Director Ahmad.

Filip Moravec, Civilian part of PRT Logar

 

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