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NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael Forsyth, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Mountain Warrior, hosted an education shura with Afghan government officials and teachers from all over eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan province to discuss issues regarding the education system and ways to improve it, on Forward Operating Base Kalagush, Dec. 15.
There are many problems facing Nuristan province’s education system, including a lack of government funding.
Classes are offered to students ranging from primary grades through high school, with males and females attending separate schools.
One district in the area faces the problem of having to join females and males in the same school, because there is not enough funding to build a separate girls’ school. Because of the mixture of the two genders, the government does not recognize a portion of the students, so the school does not receive the proper supplies or the funding needed to educate all of the students.
Another problem is educated, professional teachers often refuse to travel to the more dangerous areas in the province. This has resulted in a student to teacher ratio of 60 to 1 in some areas.
To add to the minimal amount of teachers in the province, some teachers do not show up because they are not getting paid, which causes headmasters to pay out of their own pockets.
Educational line directors, sub-governors, headmasters and teachers from various villages in Nuristan met with Forsyth to explain these and other issues they face and how to solve them.
“We all met here to determine what their needs are as far as education in the local area,” Forsyth, a native of Mayfield, Ky., said. “Only the teachers themselves know what difficulties they all face, so meeting together can help us determine, as a whole, what the needs are before we can take that next step into progression.”
The shura unveiled the three main issues that need to be addressed.
The first is professionalism of the teachers. In order to complete that task, seminars will be scheduled and held on FOB Kalagush, beginning in the near future.
The second issue is teaching materials, which the International Security Assistance Forces hope to be able to provide.
The third is a lack of infrastructure, such as buildings in which to hold classes, power, water, and roads.
ISAF will help the Afghans accomplish these goals, but it is going to take time, diligence, and cooperation between the Coalition Forces and the Afghan people.
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