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1/1/04 - AFGHAN EDUCATION - 2004-01-02

Under the Taleban, fewer than a third of the children of Afghanistan attended school. Ninety-seven percent of Afghan girls received no education at all. And during more than two decades of occupation and civil war, eighty percent of Afghanistan’s existing schools had been either severely damaged or destroyed.

Now, says President George W. Bush, “The people of Afghanistan are moving forward”:

“Afghanistan still has many challenges, but that country is making progress, and its people are a world away from the nightmare they endured under the Taleban.”

Since the end of Taleban rule in October 2001, the number of Afghan boys and girls enrolled in schools has tripled to well over three-million. The U.S. has helped rebuild over two-hundred schools to date, and aims to rebuild or rehabilitate another three-hundred in 2004. In addition, twenty-five million textbooks have been printed and distributed and almost two-thousand classroom teachers have been trained.

Guardaafereen Amiri, of Parwan, north of Kabul, is one of them. She was among a group of Afghan women educators visiting the U.S. to attend an intensive teacher-training course. Ms. Amiri says that, “We had five years at home and we forgot everything. Now we came back to our work and we need more education and helpful methods for teaching.”

Another teacher, Nargis Ahmadzai, a native of Logar, southwest of Kabul, says, “We suffered a lot of sadness during the war, and we hope [our fellow] teachers will work hard with the children because they are the future of Afghanistan.” And says Ms. Ahmadzai, “This is the start of a new educational era in Afghanistan, and the learning of new teaching methods is a great gift for the system of education in Afghanistan.”