Closure of Nimroz schools deprives many students of education
ZARANJ (Pajhwok): At least 20 schools in southwestern Nimroz province have been closed and two more torched by the Taliban during the current year, the provincial council (PC) chairman says.
According to the education department, around 85,000 students, including 18,000 girls, are enrolled in more than 140 schools in the province. Residents of Nimroz, fond of education, want their children to be educated.
But insecurity remains the main factor impinging on the vital sector. Inhabitants believe improvement in the law and order situation will help to promote education in the province.
PC Chairman Mohammad Siddique Chakhansurisays said at least 20 schools in the provinces have been closed by the Taliban and some others remained shut due to insecurity and threats from the rebels.
He adds the affected schools are situated on the outskirts of Zaranj, the provincial capital, and areas of Chahar Borjak and Khashrod districts. Around 200 students are enrolled in the closed schools.
The number of Nimroz students deprived of basic education has thus reached 4,000. The Taliban had set alight two schools in Khashrod district, a huge loss to the education sector, he notes.
But Mohammad Hashim Noorzai, administrative chief of the district, says only three schools are opened in Khashrod. These schools are being protected by local elders, and others closed.
The Taliban do not allow teachers and students to go to these schools, depriving approximately 800 studentsof education.
Education Director Abdul Wahid Hikmat says no new school has been shut in the province except the 14 schools in Khashrod, which have been closed for the past 14 years.
Insecurity, drought, unemployment, migration to Iran and the absence of teachers and students are the main reasons why these schools could not be reopened.
Only three schools, in which 600 students are enrolled, are situated in areas under Taliban control, according to Noorzai, who pledges to reopen these schools with the help of local elders and provide them textbooks.
The academic year in Nimroz, a hot province, begins in September 10 and concludes in May. Ahmad Saeed, a newly enrolled student,wears a red shirt and black trousers.
Sitting in a corner of the classroom at the Shaheed Gul Mohammad Primary School in Zaranj, the seven-year-old says teachershave told him to wear a blue shirt and black trousers next time so that people could recognise him as a student.
They are also instructed not to greet elders, help parents, refrain from eating in bazaars and avoid walking into crowds. Saeed says: “I watch soldiers on television and want to become one.”
Director of Education Abdul Hadi Baidar claims the new education year has started on an encouraging note. He hopes with the appointment of qualified teachers the education year will be result-orientated.
He complains many schools lack textbooks.But official have been dispatched to Kabul to bring the required books. A delay in the payment of teachers’salaries and lack of privileges are other major issues.
At the launch of the academic year, the director said: “After summer vacations, students have returned to school -- their second home. We are optimistic they will show promise and excellence.”
He urged students to ensure discipline in their schools and help strengthen the education sector. Around 6,000 new students, including girls, have joined schools as part of the enrollment process.
Around 16,000 new students are expected to be registered in Nimroz schools, with 40 of them without buildings. In spring, the construction of Malalai School was completed, where 1,500 students could get education in a proper environment.
In addition, several playgrounds were constructed in schools early this year at a cost of nine million afghanis. Earlier, the students used to play at improper grounds.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education (MoE) is focused on printing of textbooks, constriction of school buildings, enhancing the capacity of teachers, running an anti-corruption campaignand promoting vocational training.
Education Minister Asadullah Hanif Balkhi,highlighting his 100-day plan, said the ministry had provided education facilities to millions, but still around 3 million children were deprived of their basic right.
He is satisfiedwith the number of school-going children, but stresses focus on quality education. With the distribution of textbooks, hiring of professional teachers and construction of school buildings, the quality of education will improve.
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