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    Sweden pledges $3m to 4 northern provinces

    MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): Swedish Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) officials on Tuesday pledged $3 million (145.7 million) for promoting education in four northern provinces.

    An agreement to the effect was signed with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the PRT said, adding the funds would go to Balkh, Samangan, Jawzjan and Sar-i-Pul.

    "Sweden is committed to supporting Afghanistan for a long time, and will particularly pay attention to the four northern provinces," Swedish Ambassador to Afghanistan Torbjörn Pettersson said.

    A statement from the PRT said the money would be spent by education departments in coordination with UNICEF in remote districts of the four provinces.

    Officials in Balkh province said lack of professional teachers and proper buildings for schools created several problems in Mazar-i-Sharif and other areas. A large number of girls were deprived of education due to a shortage of female teachers, said education department spokesman, Kabir Baryalai.

    Most of the teachers refused going to go to remote areas or villages due to low salaries, he said, adding they had been working on different capacity building programmes for teachers.

    In eastern Nangarhar, a newly constructed school building was inaugurated on Tuesday. The building was constructed in Kama district with financial support from Japan, said education department spokesman, Mohammad Asif Shinwari.

    The one-storey building for the Shaheed Musa Shafiq High School, constructed at a cost of $124,000afs, has 12 classrooms. The project will resolve the space problem for 2,000 girls.