Marjah continues to benefit from advances in education

ISAF Joint Command
Courtesy Story

Date: 01.17.2011
Posted: 01.17.2011 22:06
News ID: 63706

KABUL, Afghanistan – The education system in Marjah, Helmand province, has seen substantial improvements since the previous school year, including a 100-percent increase in open schools and a 450-percent increase in enrolled students.

Comparatively, the environment found in Marjah during the early summer of 2010 is vastly different than the markedly more peaceful Helmand province city found today.

“I haven’t been to Marjah since May or June of last year, so it was a very different place than what I saw yesterday,” said Maj. Nina D’Amato, Regional Command Southwest education officer. “[Before] there were very limited areas you could go, and there were only four schools open. The academic year had just concluded, and there were 200 kids that had ultimately enrolled in school after post-kinetic operations.”

During a recent visit to a new school in Marjah, D’Amato was able to see firsthand the quick development made in the former Taliban stronghold.

“I went to Marjah, and we went to a small school called the Koru Chareh School,” D’Amato said. “This community-based school is made up of four or five tents, and in these tents were approximately 250 to 300 students. They were in rows; there was curriculum in front of them. They had a teacher in front and a blackboard. It was a completely different feeling than the Marjah I visited in early summer of last year.”

D’Amato added that the presence of female students enrolled in classes is an unprecedented improvement in Marjah’s education system.

“This place also had 40 girls attending school which is unheard of,” D’Amato said. “Last year there were 200 students, none of which were girls. Now we have close to - and this is phenomenal - 1,100 students attending school in Marjah, 40 of which are girls. It was great to see the little girls and their smiles and them wanting to learn and wanting to understand what things are.”

Not only are these improvements proof that Marjah residents are actively pursuing education, but a reflection of the continued development of the region as a whole.

“This small little school, Koru Chareh, is indicative of a much bigger situation that’s going on in Marjeh,” D’Amato said. “It’s security, it’s the community deciding that they want school for their children and taking the chances and risks and commitment that’s involved with that. All the children having a place to go, not running around in the bazaars, not running around in the fields, but in schools.”