U.S. Government announces plan for 1,000 new schools for Afghanistan children

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Andrew S. Natsios today announced a new U.S. Government initiative to rebuild the educational infrastructure in all regions of Afghanistan. The estimated $60 million dollar project concentrates on several core issues essential to a functioning and effective educational system. The main aspect of the initiative will be the rehabilitation and construction of 1,000 schools across the country over the next three years.

This announcement followed a meeting between President George W. Bush, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, USAID Administrator Natsios and other U.S. Government officials at the White House. Karzai is on a two-day visit to the United States.

The initiative will provide for the printing of up to 15 million textbooks -- a key need for Afghanistan's children -- and for the training of 30,000 classroom teachers. It also will target approximately 60,000 girls who were denied educational opportunities during Taliban rule.

The school construction component will rehabilitate or build schools in areas where both the Islamic Transitional Government of Afghanistan and the local communities demonstrate a commitment to support education. The Afghan and U.S. Governments will provide teacher salaries and learning materials, while the local communities will help with facility construction and maintenance. All school reconstruction projects will be approved by provincial authorities as well as the Afghanistan Ministry of Education.

"As President Bush has repeated, the American people believe strongly in making continued investments in Afghanistan's future," Administrator Natsios said. "In village after village that I visited in Afghanistan, the people told me the hope for the future was their children. And that meant education."

Fifteen million textbooks will be printed for the 2003 school year. The Ministry of Education will provide the list of texts needed for each grade as well as the texts to be reproduced.

In addition, a key aspect of the program provides training to teachers nationwide. A pilot project in Kandahar and Helmand provinces will test techniques to train teachers in key content areas such as language and mathematics. The program is designed to complement current courses offered by the Ministry of Education and non-governmental organizations by offering teachers continuing support throughout the school year. It will also target isolated rural teachers who do not have access to short-term training opportunities.

Since September 11, the U.S. Government has spent $900 million dollars rebuilding Afghanistan, primarily through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). For more than a year, Afghan reconstruction has focused on education, health, agriculture, infrastructure and strengthening government and the economy.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more than 40 years.

Contact: USAID Press Office
(202) 712-4320