Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan - A searing summer wind blasts the dusty crops and desert terrain surrounding the tiny school that lies behind a tidy brick wall shaded by apricot trees in Baba Kohna village of Dehdadi district near Mazar-e-Sharif, provincial center and an economic hub in northern Afghanistan.
Inside the school, principal Mohammad Sadiq Safi nurtures fertile ground. Plucking a rose from a lush garden that he has planted between eight busy classrooms, Safi says he cultivates the blooms, just as his teachers tend to their students.
“This can be a hard place,” he says of his home in Afghanistan’s northern Balkh province, where punishing winds blow so hard that clouds of dust hang high over the massive Alborz mountains spreading across the horizon. “The land and heat is tough for us all here, just as life can be. So, I have planted this garden to inspire my students, to show them what is possible if we try together,” says Safi.
The school is one of the few hundred schools in rural Afghanistan that have been built with financing from the National Solidarity Program (NSP) and run with support from the Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP). Both programs are funded by the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), a multi-donor trust fund administered by the World Bank in Afghanistan. EQUIP II, a follow-on to an earlier similar program, is committed to increasing equitable access to quality basic education especially for girls as well as training teachers, strengthening institutional capacity and engaging communities in decision making about their schools.
Built in 2005, the school is named after a community elder, Ghulam Hazarat Khan, who donated the land for the school building. Currently, Ghulama Hazrat Khan Primary School is open in two shifts for 340 girls in the morning and 360 boys in the afternoon.
- “Before, children who wanted to go to school had to travel 10 kilometers to the next district for classes,” says Safi. “Many families couldn’t manage this, and especially the girls were kept at home.”
EQUIP – Results Highlights since 2002
NSP – Results Highlights since 2003