News: Afghan Children embrace new school year
Story by Sgt. Thomas Duval
By Capt. Michael Newman and Sgt. Thomas Duval
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Most people can think back and remember the stories told by their grandparents about their days in school; the many stories about the uphill battle both to and from school. No buses, no shopping for fancy backpacks with their favorite cartoon character. For most people this is a part of history, an ending to a joke and a memory left for scrapbooks.
For children here in Shah Wali Kot region of Afghanistan, our grandparents’ memories are a reality. Often times the children of SWK are not awarded the opportunity to learn for many different reasons, but thanks to the SWK District Center with help from International Security Assistance Forces the children have a more stabile learning environment.
As a result of his hard work, dedication, and planning Habib Ullah, the SWK Minister of Education opened the doors to a new school and a new school year earlier this month.
“This is a great day for the children, a great day for the teachers and parents. This is a long time coming and I am very pleased to be here.” said Ullah.
Lt. Col. David Raugh, commander of 5th Squadron 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, stopped by to congratulate them on a job well done.
“We are really proud of them and hope that we see more schools like this in SWK,” Raugh said.
The children ranged from age 5 to 13 and came with book bags in hand; ready to start after a long summer. They were not only excited for the first day of school but had smiles on their faces when the soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 5-1 CAV welcomed them and exchanged handshakes and high fives. Some of the children knew a little English and demonstrated their knowledge in a proud way. Counting in English was a popular demonstration. And a few “how are you” as well.
Habib introduced five new teachers that will work full time at the school. They gave a tour of the new school, and were proud of the accomplishment of establishing a new school right next to the SWK District Center. NDS Officer, Mohammad Gul was one of the teachers that said he was more than happy to serve the people of SWK by volunteering his time to teach the children.
There was also discussion of providing an after school program that would allow them to teach adults to read and write. The topic was popular among the volunteer teachers and is something Habib says he plans to pursue further.
With 5-1 CAV soldiers there to celebrate the occasion, 19 children arrived bright and early, smiling and filled with excitement, knowing that they are the first to attend the brand new school.
Some traveled more than five miles and were really excited to see soldiers here to congratulate their eagerness to learn and make history.
When asked what he thought about his first day of school, one child said that his parents were also very excited and he waited a long time for the opportunity to learn.
“Education is the key to building better communities and providing better jobs for our citizens. And the teachers here today want to be a part of it” said Ullah.