Afghanistan

Rebuilt school opens doors to Afghan boys and girls

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About 1,500 girls and boys will attend classes at a reconstructed school in Shakardara district near Kabul, the fulfilment of a project that provided temporary employment for villagers in the area and helps strengthen Afghanistan's education system.
The old school building, a one-room structure that held classes for boys only, was completely destroyed during intense fighting in the 1990s. Students then had to walk three miles to get to the closest school, and in times of unrest they were not able to attend classes at all.

In developing the rebuilding project, the Ministry of Education and local communities recognized and supported the need for girls' education, a major leap from the era of the Taliban. Last year, only three per cent of girls were enrolled in school, while the rate for boys was 39 per cent.

The school was rebuilt with support from the UNDP Recovery and Employment Afghanistan Programme (REAP) with funding from Japan. The programme works in cooperation with the Government to carry out labour intensive, quick-impact initiatives to restore public infrastructure.

REAP projects are based on community participation, and all the workers on the project were hired from local communities.

"The determination and dedication with which the local communities worked in order to construct the school is a source of inspiration for all of us, but we have a long way to go - thousands of children all over the country are still out of school," said a statement by the Ministry of Education.

"The school was rebuilt by people in the community for the community," said UNDP Country Director Ercan Murat. "This is a good example of UNDP approach: our role was to provide technical and financial support."

In promoting the project, UNDP brought together the Ministry of Education, contractors, and community representatives and helped mobilize international support.

REAP projects have created employment opportunities for over 30,000 Afghans in Kabul; additional projects will provide work for 15,000 people in Jalalabad and 30,000 in Kandahar. The Ministry of Urban Development and Housing is scheduled to take over administration of REAP projects in August.

For further information please contact Svetlana Murtazalieva,svetlana.murtazalieva@undp.org, UNDP Afghanistan, or Trygve Olfarnes, trygve.olfarnes@undp.org,UNDP Communications Office.