Education receives boost in Uruzgan province
In a place where eight out of 10 children are not afforded the opportunity to attend school, the need for education in Uruzgan, Afghanistan is critical.
While there has been steady improvement over the last decade through Coalition assistance, the Australian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team – Uruzgan (PRT-U) has also had a significant and lasting impact in helping educate the next generation of Afghans.
Since 2006 the number of schools in the province has increased from 34 to 205. A further 20 schools will be built or refurbished by the end of 2013.
In 2011 the PRT-U built the Malalai Girls School, which now has over 500 students, 16 teachers and boasts 11 classrooms, a playground and a library.
Headmaster Ghulam Rabani said the PRT-U has been crucial in promoting education in Uruzgan, especially in its capital Tarin Kot.
“[PRT-U] always provide equipment and supplies,” Mr Rabani said.
“This school was built by them and we are very happy for all the support and help they provide us.
“Education is what our people want, if they don’t get it, this country will never improve.”
The Director for Education, Sediqullah Haand, said Malalai Girls School is eroding the knowledge barrier that previously existed within the female population of Uruzgan.
“Education is very important for the people here,” Mr Haand said.
“I’m sure if God wills we will have good students who graduate from this school and they will make a good future for themselves.
“All the people of Uruzgan who send their daughters to this school have no fear in their hearts.”
PRT-U advisers engage directly with Afghan Government officials and community members to facilitate the construction of roads, schools, hospitals and improving district and provincial governance.
Director PRT-U John Feakes said that great progress had been made and now the Afghans have the lead in this area as the international community moves to a support role.
“Increasingly it’s the provincial government in the lead so we are standing behind them and offering advice when it’s sought,” Mr Feakes said.
“Increasingly they are standing on their own two feet.
“[PRT-U] remain important but we are certainly not the key player that we were a couple of years ago and that’s as it should be.”
The PRT-U are provided mobility support and protection by soldiers of the 7th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment Task Group (7RAR TG), who escorted them on a mission to Malalai and the Salambaba Boys School on 12 February 2013.
Private Cameron Walsh, from the 7RAR TG Other Government Agency Platoon 2 (OGA Pl 2), said the OGA platoon provides essential assistance to the PRT-U.
“Our role is to conduct mobility support and protection to the PRT-U and enable them to do their job safely,” Private Walsh said.
“To see what we’ve helped the PRT-U accomplish is pretty amazing.”
Mr Feakes said the PRT-U mission would not be possible without the commitment and dedication of the 7 RAR TG.
“They put their lives on the line for us, we could not do our job without them, simple as that,” Mr Feakes said.
“Were they not here, we couldn’t be here either, so I have nothing but the highest praise for them and the highest respect for their professionalism.”
Tireless efforts from the PRT-U and the OGA have seen the people of Uruzgan enjoying access to basic services and infrastructure, supporting a functioning government and living in much improved security.The redeployment of international forces will not distract the PRT-U from completing its mission in Afghanistan.