MoE inattention hits hard Kandahar education sector
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Education (MoE) has paid no attention to the education sector of southern Kandahar province over the past two years, an official said on Saturday.
The MoE’s negligence has resulted in shortage of school buildings, teachers and textbooks in Kandahar, the provincial education director, Abdul Qadir Piwaston, told Pajhwok Afghan News during an exclusive interview.
Piwaston said there were a total of 450 schools in the province and 318 of them were operational. Besides the schools, 38 religious seminaries, 12 vocational and technical institutes and 31 special schools are also operating in Kandahar, he said.
However, he said only 192 of the operational 318 schools had buildings and the rest had no buildings, posing a great challenge to the education process.
He said only one of the 38 seminaries had building of its own and the rest were operated from rented houses where proper education environment did not exist.
Piwaston criticised the Education Ministry for paying no attention to these problems over the past two years. He said students of many schools were taught under the open skies in extreme cold and hot weather conditions.
The education director said they had launched efforts to resolve such issues on local level.
With the help of the Governor’s House, he said, they had talked to district administrative chiefs and development councils to spend funds of the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) on constructing buildings for schools.
The NSP funds are used to construct bridges, culverts, roads and others.
The Kandahar education director said construction work on six buildings for schools was underway in Zheri district with NSP money and a total of 12 buildings would be constructed until the end of the year in other districts.
He believed the Ministry of Education could not carry out these projects during the next 10 years.
Piwaston mentioned the lack of textbook another major problem. He said they began the ongoing academic year at a time when students from class seven to nine had no books, an issue he had repeatedly shared with the ministry, but to no avail.
The official asked the Ministry of Education to resolve the mentioned problems, saying the ministry’s job was not confined only to giving salaries.
Another key issue he mentioned was the lack of teaching staff, saying the Ministry of Education had not appointed a single teacher during the past two years.
The education director said 132 schools had been closed due to insecurity and other problems.
He said in some districts schools had been established but in areas where no one lived in a distance of five kilometers.
He said foreigners had also built a number of schools in uninhibited areas, making them useless.
As an example, he said foreigners had built a school near a river in Pashmol area of Zheri district, but there was no home in five kilometers to send children to the school.
He said the lack of teachers was one of the reasons behind the closure of schools. “There are schools in many areas, which are not functional due to the lack of teachers.”
Piwaston said they were working on a plan to shift the closed schools to areas on the outskirts of Kandahar City where need for schools was felt.
He said if the plan was not accepted, then the closed schools would be declared dissolved.
To a question, the education director admitted that the education standard had been low in districts, saying professional teachers were reluctant to perform duty in insecure districts against a meager salary. However, he said this issue would be gradually resolved.
He recalled 10 years ago it was difficult to find a high school graduate to teach at schools in Kandahar City, but currently university graduates were teaching in most of schools, leaving no place for a 12th grader.
He said the standard of education had been improved in nearby Arghandab, Dand and Daman districts and the process would be gradually extended to far-off districts.
From these three districts, he said, 30 to 40 students completed high schools each year, but students in other districts came to Kandahar City for completing high school.
He said they had arranged classes in some districts to keep the education affairs running. As an example, he said, they had arranged two classes in Nish district and the students were taught by two local teachers. He said these classes would be converted into schools once financial resources were made available.
About corruption in the education sector, Piwaston said the provincial governor had a created a mini-jirga tasked with preventing corruption and improving the standard of education.
The number of students in Kandahar currently reaches 271,000 including 80,000 girls taught by 5,278 teachers, including 900 females.
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