Teachers' townships on paper
There is no proof on the ground that between 2009 and 2012 the Ministry of Education has distributed 80,000 jeribs in 25 provinces among teachers.
Instead investigations by Killid reveal that only 6,814 jeribs (one jerib is equal to half an acre or 2,000 sq metres), including 9,977 residential plots, were distributed to teachers in provinces and 4,000 jeribs to their counterparts in Kabul province. Authorities in Kabul education presidency could not even say how much of the land has been handed over and what remains with the government.
Authorities from education presidencies in 29 provinces were interviewed to arrive at the above figures. Teachers in Kabul, Samangan, Laghman, Maidan Wardak, Jowzjan, Helmand, Herat, Farah, Khost, Nimroz, Uruzgan, Kandahar, Kapisa, Bamyan, Badakhshan and Faryab were among the lucky few who have received land from the Ministry of Education.
In parts of provinces like Ghor, Laghman, Maidan Wardak, Helmand, Samangan, Daikundi, Bamyan, Kandahar, Kapisa, Paktia and Khost an estimated 6,558 jeribs allocated for teacher townships were grabbed by powerful individuals, government authorities and local people.
The Ministry of Urban Development had announced 90,000 residential plots would be created on 49,582 jerib lands in 101 townships over 28 provinces of the country. It says 70 of the townships in 25 provinces have been plotted, and the land handed over to the Ministry of Education.
Nilofar Langar, the spokesperson in the urban development ministry, says, "The ministry's task is to make plans for township and give the usage permit of the townships. The distribution of lands is the task of the Ministry of Education so when the marking process is completed the land is handed over to the education ministry."
As per the Ministry of Urban Development's figures only 49,582 jeribs have been handed over to the Ministry of Education. However, Mujib Mehrdad, the education ministry spokesperson, claims the ministry has handed over an area of 80,000 jeribs to the teachers.
Just 315 residential plots have been plotted on 523 jeribs and distributed to teachers in Samangan province. Hamidullah, provincial head of properties office says, "Three townships are being constructed for teachers in Samangan province. The distribution process for the remaining residential plots would soon start."
Plots in only a part of one township have been distributed. There are three townships in the pipeline. Asadullah Roya, head of education in Laghman province says, "The lands of one township in centre have been distributed and the teachers have constructed houses on their land."
Five townships have been planned on 8,610 jeribs. Some 2,540 plots out of 4,549 spread over 3,000 jeribs in Daman and Arghandab have been distributed. The rest – 2,220 plots – wait to be handed over. Samim Samimi, spokesperson of Kandahar education presidency says, "Lands that have been allocated by the Ministry of Education for teachers are so far from the provincial centre that teachers are not interested to take them."
Only 147 residential plots in 2,000 jeribs allocated for teachers have been distributed. Fazel Rahman Tareq, head of education presidency in Maidan Wardak province says, "The plots of two townships that includes 147 residential plots have been distributed; the blueprint of the Sayed District township has also been finalised by the Ministry of Urban Development and the process of distribution would be started soon."
Chronic problem of land grabbing
A big challenge in Afghanistan for the last decade and a half has been land grabbing by people in power. Killid has evidence that 6,558 jeribs for teachers' townships have been lost to land grabbers.
At least 4,000 jeribs were grabbed in Spin Boldak district. Samim, the spokesperson of the provincial education department says, "The lands are not in our control in Spinboldak, Panjwayee and Takhtapol districts." He says a delegation that came from Kabul confirmed the land existed; and then the powerful parceled it among themselves.
Ghor and Samangan
Some 150 jeribs each that was allocated for townships for teachers in the two provinces have been misappropriated. While all the land in Ghor is gone, in Samangan, according to Hamidullah, head of estates, 50 jeribs from the Ministry of Education in Jegaband district is safe from land grabbers.
Laghman and Maidan Wardak
According to Asadullah Roya, 250 jeribs have been taken over by "nomads, local people and others" in Alisheng and Alingar districts. More than 50 jeribs were grabbed in Maidan Wardak. Fazel Rahman Tareq, head of education says, "Fifty areas have been grabbed by powerful individuals and local people in Toup Dashta of Sayed Abad district."
An area of 300 jeribs was misappropriated by a tribe. Bakht Noor Bakhtyar, head of Khost education says the "tribe called Esmayeely Khil and powerful government authorities" are responsible.
People have grabbed 200 jeribs in townships that are located in the centre, Gardez, and in Chamkani district. Mehrabudin, head of education of Paktia told Killid, "A township had been allocated for the teachers in Paktia province and plots were even distributed. The teachers had started construction work too, but people gathered and grabbed the land."