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27 May 2018
Writer: Laila Noorani

Kabul: Schools sans infrastructure

More than 40 percent of schools in Kabul province have neither tables nor chairs for students, and function out of rented premises. A Killid investigation.

A 122 of Kabul city's 307 schools do not own their building. Meanwhile, some of the oldest schools in the city are housed in buildings owned by the Ministry of Education (MoE) that should be demolished because they are now structurally weak and destroyed in parts.

School heads lament the MoE's indifference to their problems including a serious shortage of teachers. The ministry has tried to solve the crisis by hiring teachers on contracts.

Some school managers complained about the serious shortage of textbooks – in some cases 70 percent of books were not available even two months after the start of the school year. Students were forced to buy the books in the open market.

Officials in the Kabul city education department blame the mess on former MoE authorities. Ahmad Zamir Gowara who was appointed head of Education for Kabul city two months back says that the department has drafted a five-year plan, which it is trying to implement.

Rented buildings
A survey of schools shows the majority of those in rented premises are in Kabul's 17th,10th, 13th, 5th, 15th and 8th educational districts. For instance, 19 out of 24 schools in the 17th District, do not own their building; 14 out of 15 schools in the 10th District; 14 out of 29 in the 13th District; 12 out of 27 in the 5th District; 10 out of 17 in the 15th District; and, 9 out of 24 in the 8th District.

The residential buildings-turned-schools can be paying rents from anything between 30,000 Afs (423 USD) to 1 million Afs (14,100 USD).

Ali Ahmad Madadi, head of 17th educational district, says that since residential buildings are not meant to be classrooms, classes are often very cramped.

Fazel Rahman Fazel, the head of the 4th educational district, says that students in schools such as Ghazi Ayub Khan, Maleka Suraya and Musadeq Farhang are operating either in tents or open spaces due to a shortage of classroom space.

Moreover, there are also schools in the Afghan capital where students study inside metal containers. Gulaqa Nejrabi, head of the 9th educational district, says that the Abdul Hadi Dawi School has had to turn containers-into-classrooms because of shortage of space.
Educational district 16 is also facing difficulties. District head Mohammad Nayeem says at Mohammad Anwar Besmel and Nazo Ana, students are taught in the open or corridors of the building.
In the 2nd educational district, Sardar Ali Shah Yusufzai, district head, says most parts of the Qari Abdullah and Shah Doo Shamshera schools are in ruins because of strong winds and rain. As a result, he says there are 70 students in one classroom, nearly double the government rule of 40-45 students in a class.

Kabir Haqmal, head of publication in MoE, and spokesperson, claims 6,000 new schools will be built this year under a presidential order.

Staff shortage
According to information provided by heads of educational districts, Kabul's schools are facing a shortage of 2,568 teachers. Districts 17th, 13th, 7th and 3rd – four out of the city's 16 districts – are the worst off.
Madadi, head of the 17th, says the district needs 1,029 teachers. He says he has tried to solve the problem by hiring teachers on contract, but it has not helped.
Gowara, head of Kabul city education department, claims some 800 teachers' posts have been announced by the commission of administrative reforms and once the process of recruitment takes place some of the problems of Kabul city education would be solved.

Chairs and tables
While 122 out of 307 schools in Kabul city neither own their premises nor have furniture in the classrooms, interviews with staff from government schools with buildings reveal that students have to sit on the floor because of a shortage of tables and chairs. In the 16th District, school heads say the furniture is old and in dilapidated condition. As a short-term measure school administrations have resorted to repairing furniture.

Mohammad Naser Dost who is the head of the 15th District told Killid that the furniture in 10 schools is inadequate. He has often complained to the Kabul city education department but to no avail. The head of the department has reportedly promised to solve the problem in schools that are in government buildings.

Shortage of textbooks
Despite the fact that two months of the current academic year have passed there is still a shortage of textbooks in Kabul city. Heads of educational districts confirm that students, unable to buy the books supplied by the MoE, are being forced to buy from the market.
Madadi, head of the 17th education district, says students from classes one to six are affected by the shortage of textbooks. Mohammad Sharif Anwari, head of the 13th District, also says students in classes one to six are affected.
Gowara, head of the Kabul city education department, claims the problem will be sorted out once new textbooks are printed in three months.
The MoE was allocated a development budget of 14 billion Afs (197 million USD) in 2017 but the ministry was able to spend only 14 percent – about 2 billion Afs (28 million USD).

 

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