Afghan Education Minister, Dr. Farooq WardakThe Afghanistan Minister of Education, Dr. Farooq Wardak, has been very busy since taking office three years ago.

More than 8,000 school buildings have been constructed in the country since the end of the Taliban regime in 2001. And, contracts were signed this week, for constructing 13 more schools in eight different provinces over the next six months.

The new classrooms will help nearly 8,500 students, many of whom study in the open air or under tents. Funding for the $1.6 million will come from the education ministry, the World Bank and Denmark.

Despite challenges such as lack of teacher aptitude, the Ministry of Education has increased school enrollment to seven million children, including more than 2.5 million girls enrolled in the last ten years.

Wardak said the achievements being made in Afghanistan were to be shared with American taxpayers especially, given that they are the ones who contributed the most to the effort in rebuilding Afghanistan. Japan also has been generous with grants for rebuilding the war-torn country.

Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, has established more than 171 schools himself over more than ten years, most of them for girls in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, through his nonprofit Central Asia Institute and an effort called Stones Into Schools.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education has set a 2020 deadline to provide all children in the nation equal access to a quality education.

[According to a Feb. 2011 (PDF) Congressional Research Service report, 8,000 schools were built since 2001; the Pajhwok Afghan News says 10,700 school buildings have been constructed across the county in that period.]
(Thanks to Afghan Good News for the story idea)

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