News: ADT visits university, farm in Gardez
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers of the 2-45th Agribusiness Development Team visited the Paktya University and a local farm in Gardez here, Oct. 26.
The ADT conducted a site assessment of Paktya University’s infrastructure to facilitate a project list for the months ahead.
A meeting with the university faculty was held to discuss various classes such as soil testing, beekeeping, poultry production, forestry, a student newspaper and an English language-training course for the instructors.
“The meeting was important since it allowed for face-to-face interaction with the faculty and to see exactly what they needed,” said U.S. Army Spc. Mandy Kennedy, 2-45th ADT agriculture education specialist from Ellsworth, Wis.
The ADT is also working with Oklahoma State University to provide video teleconferencing for interaction with students at Paktya University, building upon the success that previous ADTs have had in the province.
U.S. Army Col. Robert Roshell from Lawton, Okla., the 2-45th ADT commander, said he realized the importance of providing an educational base for the Afghans in the province since he has been involved in Oklahoma education for more than 30 years as either a teacher or a principal.
The illiteracy rate in Afghanistan is, by some estimates, more than 70 percent.
“Higher education is critical to turning around the illiteracy rate in Afghanistan,” Roshell said.
Paktya University is working to improve the literacy rate and further the knowledge of more advanced agricultural methods since most Afghans live a very basic agrarian lifestyle. There are more than 500 students currently enrolled in various areas of study at the university.
After departing the university, the ADT reassessed a farm that was visited a week ago to see the amount of change that had occurred.
“The Afghan contractors had made significant progress since the previous visit,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Billy Payne, from Aubrey, Texas, project manager for the ADT.
Some of the areas that had improved included ditches for the electrical and water supplies, construction of the education building and emplacement of the perimeter fence.
Payne was also able to deliver some items to replace those that had broken over the course of the previous ADT’s deployment.
The ADT is working to improve the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its connection to the population across Afghanistan, said Payne.