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FEATURE STORY

Education Improvement Program Brings Tent Schooling to an End for Scores of Students

December 15, 2015

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The new school building on the campus of Khurasan high school has not only resulted in a secure learning environment for students but also in an increase in enrollment.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Students at a local school in Balkh Province are now free from the extreme conditions they endured while having their lessons in tents by moving into newly built classrooms.
  • The new school building and facilities were made possible through grants from the Second Education Quality Improvement Program as well as contributions from parents and the local community.
  • The program aims to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls. It is implemented by the Ministry of Education and supported by the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Balkh Province – “Greeting carries a spiritual reward,” reads out 10-year-old Madina, who is reading the lesson of the day word by word before her classmates. She reads every word of the textbook in her hands with tremendous enthusiasm.

Madina has just entered third grade this year and is grateful to be in the new building that houses her classroom. “When our school did not have a building, we were studying inside tents, sometimes even under burning sunshine and rainfall,” she says.

A new building with eight classrooms was built recently on the campus of Khurasan high school, a girls’ school located in Kart-e-Khurasan in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif where Madina studies. As a result, hundreds of children have been transferred from tents to a properly equipped learning environment. Currently, some 3,900 girls study in Khurasan high school in morning and afternoon sessions.

Zarghona Harris, principal of Khurasan high school, is pleased that so many students no longer need to study in tents. “With the new building added to the school campus this year, 11 of our classes, which would have otherwise remained under the tents, have moved inside the building,” she says.

Another student who has moved into the new building, Yalda Haidary, recalls the uncomfortable schooldays before it was built. “When our class was under the tent, we had to keep our feet above the ground to avoid stepping on the water puddles that collected inside our tent on rainy days,” says 16-year-old Yalda. “Studying in a proper classroom has brought me peace of mind, something every student deserves to enjoy.”

The new building at Khurasan high school was made possible with the assistance of an Infrastructure Development Grant from the Second Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP II). The objective of EQUIP II is to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls, through school grants, teacher training, and strengthened institutional capacity with support from communities and private providers. It is implemented by the Ministry of Education and supported by the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

Khurasan high school was awarded an Infrastructure Development Grant of $98,000 for the new building. In addition, the School Management Council (shura), comprising parents and community members, made a contribution of nearly 10 percent of the costs to help in its building.

 


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When the classes were held under the tents, students had to keep their feet above the ground to avoid stepping on the water puddles that collected inside the tents on rainy days.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

" Studying in a proper classroom has brought me peace of mind, something every student deserves to enjoy. "

Yalda Haidary

Student, Khurasan High School

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New facilities like the science lab help students learn better

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

Principal Zarghona Harris is thankful for the support the school has received: “Although some of our students still continue to study under tents, we are very happy for the newly constructed building and would like to thank the World Bank and its partners for their assistance.”

“Moving to the new building allowed us to donate 15 tents and 150 school chairs to other schools where students need them in Mazar-e-Sharif,” she adds.

The construction of the school building began in July 2013 and was completed the following year, according to Homayoun Rahmani, EQUIP provincial coordinator in Balkh. There are students from almost 600 local families studying in the building, he says.

New facilities enhance learning

Khurasan high school also received a Quality Enhancement Grant (QEG) of some $2,500 from EQUIP II for purchasing school supplies and equipment. It is one of 400 schools in Balkh Province that has benefited from QEGs. The school has received some $99,000 in grants since 2007.

QEGs are provided to schools across Afghanistan to finance school improvements plans prepared by School Management Councils. The grants are aimed at meeting school needs such as laboratory equipment, library supplies, and other materials that help strengthen the learning environment. To date, a total of 16,588 schools across the country have benefited from QEGs, amounting to $39.8 million.

The new school building with its facilities has not only resulted in a secure learning environment for students but also in an increase in enrollment. The school’s enrollment rate has doubled this year compared to that of the previous year, says Homayoun.

Eleventh grader Arezo, 17, is happy about the new school facilities: “I think the science lab is very useful to all of us; we have started to make sense of our knowledge by practicing it.” She also thinks the library has inspired interest in reading among young students. “We have a good library with quality books at our disposal,” Arezo says. “It will surely help increase enthusiasm for reading among our local community as well.”

At the same time, Khurasan high school continues to maintain a good reputation since it was established in 1984, says Rabia Hakimi, 50, a teacher in the Dari Language and Literature Department. There are currently 97 teachers at the school. “Good team work, sincerity among school teachers, and support from local communities have all been key factors to our success,” says Rabia.

 


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