Government of Japan provides US$24 million for constructions of education facilities in Kabul city

Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); Government of Japan

KABUL, 22 Jan, 2009 Education facilities in Kabul city will receive a boost with a new US$ 24 million grant from the Government of Japan. Under a new agreement signed with UNICEF today, approximately 80,000 students will benefit from the construction of education facilities of 1,000 classrooms.

The agreement was formally signed by H.E. Mr. Hideo Sato, Ambassador of Japan and Ms Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Representative for Afghanistan in the presence of Afghanistan's Minister of Education, H.E. Dr. Farooq Wardak at a special ceremony in the Ministry of Education today.

The grant will facilitate to achieve the objectives of 5-year National Education Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Education to create safe-learning environment with focus on girls, improve the quality, and develop a healthy linkage between schools and communities.

"Parents are demanding education for their children as seen with over 6 million children who have enrolled in schools in 2008." said UNICEF Representative for Afghanistan, Catherine Mbengue. "Government and its partners including UNICEF are doing their utmost to respond to this demand so that parents of this country see their children enrolled and complete their education cycle. This grant from the government of Japan is another means to respond to this hope".

The broad objectives of this project are to reduce gender disparity in basic education and improve the quality of education for all children of Kabul city by end of 2010.

Over 12% of Afghanistan's students enrolled in school are in Kabul city. Currently there are 35 schools without adequate school-building. 25 schools are operating with four shifts due to shortage of learning space, giving very little time for actual teaching and learning in classrooms, resulting in delivery of poor quality education. The Japanese contribution will help improve this situation.

"Japan has been setting a high priority on the Education sector over the past seven years and has been supporting the efforts of the Afghan government through UNICEF," said Ambassador Sato. "I would like to express our deep appreciation for the wonderful work of UNICEF and the Ministry of Education in our joint efforts to improve quality of education in this country."

Three decades of conflict have left Afghanistan with destroyed infrastructure, fragmented institutions and a lack of basic health, education and sanitation facilities in most parts of the country. The Government of Afghanistan endorsed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in May 2004, with country's MDG target year 2020 which gives it another 13 years to achieve the MDG benchmark. While a lot of progress has been made, so far there are still around 40% school-age children out of schools, of which 65% are girls.

The future of the country depends on investment in the education sector. Quality education is a critical ingredient for poverty alleviation and economic growth in Afghanistan.

Japan has been a long-term supporter of UNICEF's work with the Government of Afghanistan, notably in the areas of education and health. Since 2000, the Japanese contribution to the government of Afghanistan through the UNICEF assisted Country Programme has been about US$ 89 million.

For more information, please contact:

Ministry of Education, Asif Nang; +93 (0) 799 33 79 58
Embassy of Japan in Afghanistan, Mr. Kazuo Tsukada; +93 799 689 862
UNICEF Kabul, Fawad Sahil fsahil@unicef.org +93 (0) 798 507 114       

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