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Press release

For Afghan children, learning continues throughout winter vacation

Nearly 50,000 children benefit from community-based education in areas with no formal schools

KABUL, 23 December 2004 – While Afghanistan’s formal schools are mostly closed for the winter, and most children in the industrialized world are also enjoying a vacation, nearly 50,000 students in six provinces of Afghanistan are continuing to benefit from education, through a community-based initiative led by the Afghan Ministry of Education with support from UNICEF.

In an effort to provide educational opportunities to children in communities with no formal schools, UNICEF is helping to establish community-based education in Kabul, Ghazni, Parwan, Herat, Farah and Badghis provinces. The programme has so far created 936 classes catering for 47,271 children (25,143 girls and 22,128 boys) aged between 7 and 12 years old. None of these children has been able to attend formal schools, due to lack of facilities close to their homes.

Classrooms are established in buildings provided for the purpose by the community itself; mosques, private homes and other venues are being used to hold lessons, while the community also identifies a suitable person to act as the students’ teacher and provides incentives for their services. UNICEF has provided classroom and learning materials to the community-based schools, as well as supporting rapid training of the local teachers to ensure that a minimum standard of instruction is provided.

The programme focuses on communities where no formal school is available, and where the distance from the community to the nearest school is preventing children from attending. In a study undertaken in 2003, UNICEF found that more than 37 per cent of Afghan families cited long distances from the home to the classroom as being the main reason for not sending their children to school. These new community-based schools draw upon the enthusiasm of local communities to provide education for their children and make use of existing resources at local level to ensure that children are not denied basic education. Each community-based school is linked to the nearest formal school, which monitors standards of teaching and ensures that the national curriculum is being followed.

The community-based education initiative will shortly be established in Nangarhar, Takhar and Faryab provinces, and by the middle of 2005 UNICEF hopes that up to 500,000 children will be benefiting from the programme. The Afghan Ministry of Education has previously stated that an estimated 2,000 schools need to be built every year for the next three years, if demand for education is to be fully met. The community-based education programme aims to provide opportunities for all children to access basic primary education now, while the longer-term process of school construction continues.

The programme is supported with financial contributions from Swedish SIDA, Denmark, UNICEF Germany and the Siemens corporation, at a total cost to date of US$ 1.4 million.

For more information please contact:

Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Afghanistan +93 (0)796 07400

Mohammad Rafi, UNICEF Afghanistan +93 (0)796 07403 (Dari and Pashto)




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