Education aid - an apparent success story in
KABUL, 29 August 2010 (IRIN) - Education in Faryab
Province, northern Afghanistan, has never been as good
as it is now thanks to the dozens of new schools built
Over 120 new schools have been built in the
province over the past few years and 40-50 more will
follow in the next two years, with Norwegian
“Faryab’s educational needs have been met by the
new schools,” said Gul Agha Ahmadi, a spokesman of the
Ministry of Education.
For an estimated population of 800,000 there are
423 state schools, 20 religious seminaries, two
teacher training institutes and one vocational
training centre in the province, according to the
Over 40 percent of the total 282,080 students in
the province are female.
Faryab is a success story in a country where almost
half of the 12,600 schools nationwide do not have a
building (classes are held in the open or in tents),
“We want to concentrate our efforts in a few
development sectors. What is important is that
Norwegian taxpayers want to see some concrete
results,” Kåre R. Aas, the outgoing Norwegian
ambassador to Afghanistan, told IRIN.
Norway’s flag and other official symbols are not
used on the schools which, according to some experts,
have helped keep them immune from armed attacks.
Schools, students and teachers have often been
attacked and harassed by gunmen allegedly associated
with Taliban insurgents.
At least 20 percent of Norway’s US$125 million
annual aid budget for Afghanistan goes to Faryab
Province, where about 500 Norwegian soldiers are
stationed as part of the NATO-led International
Security Assistance Force.
The rest of the aid is spent on projects elsewhere
in the country, at the discretion of the Afghan
Aid and the military
NATO-member states have troops in different parts
of the country, where they are also engaged in aid
activities through the so-called Provincial
Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).
Aid agencies have criticized the involvement of
PRTs in humanitarian and development projects,
labelling the process “aid militarization”.
“Our military has no involvement in our civilian
development projects,” said Aas, adding that his
country’s aid was strongly “scrutinized and monitored”
in order to prevent mismanagement and corruption.
But he conceded that not all aid projects in which
Norwegian money was involved, had been
corruption-free: “We have closed down some projects
after corruption charges against specific projects
which we supported,” Aas said.
Education Ministry officials said Norway’s school
building projects were planned in collaboration with
the government and implemented by NGOs.
Helmand versus Faryab
Afghanistan’s 2004 constitution insists on
geographical equity in terms of development projects
and the delivery of services, but the reality is
different. In terms of education, the southern
province of Helmand, severely affected by the
insurgency, appears to lag far behind Faryab Province.
Though it has roughly the same population as Faryab,
Helmand has only 282 schools of which over 150 have
been closed due to insecurity and lack of teachers,
provincial officials said.
But Pierre Fallavier, director of the Kabul-based
independent think-tank Afghanistan Research and
Evaluation Unit, introduced a note of caution:
“Building schools does not mean improving education -
any more than building a hospital means improving
health care,” adding that the focus on education was
good but not at the cost of other important issues.
The reasons children do not go to school include
the lack of safe road access, the lack of clean school
toilets, parents’ financial situations as well as
their attitudes towards education, said Fallavier.
Up to seven million students are currently enrolled
at schools across Afghanistan, according to the
Education Ministry, indicating significant progress
since 2001 when only two million (boys only) were
However, about five million school-age children,
mostly girls in the insecure southern and eastern
provinces, are still being deprived of an education
due to war, poverty, lack of schools and social
restrictions, the Education Ministry said.
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a
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Humanitarian Affairs. IRIN is UN humanitarian news and
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the views of the United Nations or its agencies.