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FEATURE STORY December 17, 2018

Additional School Building Improves Learning Environment in Eastern Afghanistan


View of the Mohammadi Sahebzada High School in Behsoud district of Nangarhar Province. Established in 1940, the school is one of the oldest schools in eastern Afghanistan. Currently, 116 teachers teach 5,900 students in two shifts.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


  • In Nangarhar province, thousands of Afghan students can now learn better since they moved from tents into a concrete school building.
  • The school was built thanks to contributions from the community and support from the Ministry of Education’s Education Quality Improvement Program.
  • The program, which closed in 2017, aimed to increase equitable access to quality education across Afghanistan.

BEHSOUD DISTRICT, Nangarhar Province – . He never imagined then how physically challenging school would be. In his first grade, he would walk to school with a small carpet in his bag in order to have something to sit on when he reached class.

“Studying under the shade of a tree was not comfortable,” recalls the tenth grader at Mohammadi Sahebzada High School. For seven years, he had classes in the open and struggled with the hot weather, dust, and rainy days. “They were not good times,” Rezwanullah says. “We had difficulties focusing and learning our lessons properly. The hot weather of Nangarhar was unbearable.” .

Nine years ago, Mohammadi Sahebzada High School had only three buildings. More than 10 classes, including Rezwanullah’s, were held under tents and trees because of lack of space in the buildings. These challenges were partially addressed when in 2008 Mohammadi Sahebzada High School received a 3.2 million afghani (about $64,000) Infrastructure Development Grant from the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) Educational Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP).

, providing a safe and enabling learning and teaching environment for more students and teachers.

“We have real classrooms,” says Safiullah Bahir, 24, who teaches history and civil information at the school. “In the building, students and teachers have no distractions. We can teach comfortably and answer students’ questions properly.”  

"In the building, students and teachers have no distractions. We can teach comfortably and answer students’ questions properly."
Safiullah Bahir
Teacher, Mohammadi Sahebzada High School


With support from the ARTF through EQUIP, Mohammadi Sahebzada High School now has more concert classrooms, a laboratory and a library that has helped improve educational environment and overall quality of education for Nangarhari students.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Vital Community Support

EQUIP, which closed in December 2017, sought to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls. It was implemented by the MoE and funded by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), administered by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors. EQUIP was originally supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries.

(to 500 schools in the first generation of the project and an additional 375 schools in the second generation), constructed 31 school buildings and established 856 School Management Shuras (Councils).

“I think working closely with people and being attentive to their concerns in our plans helped EQUIP meet its objectives in Nangarhar province,” says Muslim Ebrahimi, former EQUIP provincial coordinator in Nangarhar. “Without the community’s support we would never be where we are now.”

EQUIP was recently succeeded by the EQRA (education) Project. EQRA is a $298 million five-year project. Funding for EQRA comes from three sources – a $100 million grant from the IDA; a $210 million grant from the ARTF; and a $98 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which is the only partnership and fund that aims to strengthen education systems in developing countries. , especially for girls, and to improve learning conditions in schools and transparency in the Ministry of Education’s resource management.

Recently succeeded by the EQRA Project, Educational Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP) distributed around 875 grants to a number of schools in all 22 districts of Nangarhar Province. At the closure of EQUIP, 31 school buildings were constructed across the province. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Remaining Challenges

Mohammadi Sahebzada High School is located in the Biland Ghar area of Behsoud district. . Currently, 116 teachers teach 5,900 students in two shifts.

Fifteen-year-old Shahor, a sixth grader, thinks the school still faces challenges that need to be addressed. “Everything is good at our school,” he says appreciatively, “We have another school building and good teachers, but the school is overcrowded, and we don’t have the resources to meet the demand.”

Shahor, who is fortunate to have studied in the concrete building built by EQUIP since first grade, says that the school laboratory and library are small and not all students have easy access to them. “Most of the time, when we go to library, it is full of students and there is no room,” says Shahor, who is studying on a concrete bench outside the building with his friend.

School principal Nangyalai Asir agrees that many challenges have yet to be addressed. While the , there are many other challenges remaining, he acknowledges. The school does not have a computer lab or reliable electricity, which makes teaching and learning computer-based subjects difficult.

In addition, the population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) coming from the insecure areas of Laghman, Kunar, Nuristan, and surrounding Nangarhar districts is growing daily in the area. This means that there are more school students and insufficient space in the classes. Just in 2018, , increasing the student number from 5,500 to 5,900.

“If the situation continues, it will be very difficult for us to deliver quality education to students in the area,” Nangyalai Asir points out. “As a result of the increase in students this year, we have had to hold five classes under the tent. We hope for continued assistance in the future to fulfill our needs and work much more effectively.”