News: Day care for teachers in Panjshir girls’ school
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Peter Ferrell
Previously the teachers would place their children in the classroom as they taught, but the Panjshir PRT made several visits to setup and finally complete a day room for the women teachers.
The project began June 8 when the Panjshir PRT visited the school to help clean, then they returned to carpet a room and deliver toys, day beds and chairs, June 26.
To help the women teachers focus while teaching, older girls attending the school from Deklan village, will be able to help look after the children in the day care room.
“This project is the first of its kind in the province,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael O’Neill, from Narberth, Pa., a civil affairs officer with Panjshir PRT.
The most important reason for the day care is the safety of the teachers’ children, who are otherwise left to play on a cold dirty classroom floor while their mothers are teaching. Also, having the teachers’ children in the classroom creates quite a distraction.
“Despite the lack of resources, these teachers are a committed group of professionals and deserve as much help as we can give them. We want to create a safe and secure environment for the teachers’ children. This allows the teachers to focus on the lesson plan for maximum benefit for students.” said O’Neill.
The students come from the three villages in the river valley to attend this school.
“There are 680 students that range in grades one through 11,” said Nafisa Nasrat, Gullabbudin Girls’ School’s principal, who brings three of her own children to school every day.
The teachers, who are all female, juggle motherhood and serving as teachers. Some travel from Kabul by bus with their children, and they take the same route back with their children before night fall.
There are seven teachers for the primary grades and 17 teachers for the secondary grades. A first year teacher makes 5,000 Afghani, which equals about $109 monthly. Second year teachers and beyond make 7,000 afghani, which equals about $152 U.S. a month.
Paying for day care and transportation makes it difficult to have money left over, so the day care at the school will help the teachers by creating a safe and non-distracting place for their children while they teach, said Nasrat.
“If we can create a positive change in this area of the Afghan quality of life, then we have just made it harder for our enemies to recruit. That is the heart of Counter Insurgency Operations.” said O’Neill.
“Teachers play a vital role in the future of the country, and making sure their basic needs are met allows them to concentrate on their job,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Curtis Velasquez, PRT Panjshir commander.