Helmand schools need firewood: activists
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Schools in southern Helmand province could not be supplied firewood this winter due to a dispute with contractors over the price, plummeting attendance by 30 percent, civil society activists said on Wednesday.
Bost Civil Society Organisation members told a press conference in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, that firewood should have principally reached all schools about a month ago.
However, the materials could not be supplied to schools so far due a number of problems at the Education Department and negligence on its part, said Abdul Ghaffar Ishaqzai, the organisation head.
He said many schools in Helmand lacked shelters and some window glasses, exposing children to harsh climate conditions.
Haji Nazir, the group’s political committee head, said they wanted the provincial Education and Training Directorate to resolve the issue at the earliest.
He said there were 264 operational schools in Helmand and attendance in each had declined by 30 percent due to cold weather, affecting children’s studies.
He said the issue was only in Helmand because a dispute was ongoing with contractors over the price of firewood and gas.
Nazir said the authorities concerned should ink contracts in line with established rules and children should not be a victim of corruption in future.
A 5th grader in the Safyan area of Lashkargah, Shamsuddin, told Pajhwok Afghan News heaters were available in their school, but there was no fuel. He said some schools lacked desks and children sitting on floor often fell ill.
Education Director Abdul Matin Jafar confirmed the problem, saying its victims were children only.
He said they had to cancel a contract, which had been signed at a high price, but a second contract at a comparatively lower price was rejected by the commission concerned, thus creating the problem.
He said the contract’s procurement process had been completed and the process of supplying firewood and gas to schools in Lashkargah and districts would start from tomorrow (Thursday).
There are a total of 383 schools in Helmand and of them, 264 are operational, where 192,000 children are studying.
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