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Afghan education officials, PRT open school in Kunar

By 1st Lt. Nicholas Mercurio , Kunar PRT

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KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (May 23, 2011) —The Afghan Minister of Education, Faruq Wardak, joined Kunar Provincial Gov. Fazlullah Wahidi and representatives from the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Dam Kalay School, Afghanistan, May 17.

Situated in the heart of Asadabad, the provincial capital, the Dam Kalay School contains 14 rooms, 10 of which are classrooms, and can accommodate more than 300 students.

Funded by the PRT at a cost of $219,000, construction began on the school in August 2009.

The Dam Kalay School brings the total of PRT-built schools in Kunar to 35 and takes the PRT one step closer to fulfilling the promise of 50 schools in Kunar.

“The thing to remember here is that we are not just building schools to have them,” said PRT Commander U.S. Navy Cmdr. Brian Goss of Annapolis, Md., “the focus is on sustainability.  What good is a school if no one goes to it?”  

“Before we even break ground on a new project,” Goss continued, “we work with our Afghan partners to ensure that they can create an operations and maintenance budget, staff the facility, provide the necessary equipment, and so on, all through coordination with the appropriate ministry in Kabul.”

In this way, sustainability fuels stability, Goss said.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Lise Pederson, Kunar PRT lead engineer, of Lakewood, Colo., said she hopes to open several schools in the Narang and Khas Kunar Districts of Kunar in the next 60 days. The list is slated to include the Zagrano Bando School in Khas Kunar, and the Bar Narang, Hadwal and Yargul schools in Narang.

Pederson also said the PRT is partnering with Afghan education officials from the provincial government to award contracts for future school construction in the Shigal and Nurgol Districts.