Lt. Col. Vivian E. Gaz, commander of the U.S. Army 378th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion assists a teacher in cutting the ribbon during the opening ceremonies of a new school in Deh Dadi, Feb. 6. The 378th CSSB completed the renovation project, which was started by the 530th CSSB. The school will serve as the learning environment for 3400 female students throughout the area. (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Christophe Laurent)
DEH DADI DISTRICT, Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan (February 21, 2012) — In the landscape of northern Afghanistan, the challenges of educating the growing population has been a concern for many years. The issues range from a lack of educational opportunities to the cultural roadblocks of gender. With illiteracy and female education in the forefront of the everyday challenges of the Afghan population, the opening of a new school has provided solutions to overcome these obstacles.
Feb. 6 will forever live as a banner day for the more than 3,400 students in the Deh Dadi district of the Balkh province, as the doors to their school have opened to instruction. What makes this opening such a hallmark event is the school is only for female students.
A school dedicated for the sole purpose of the instruction of women will harbor a new way of life for the Deh Dadi district. In addition to breaking these cultural barriers, the students are also achieving their goals in the fight toward educational enlightenment.
The project to provide the school began during a shura involving local elders, the subgovernor of the province and members of the International Security Assistance Force currently stationed in the area.
U.S. Army Capt. Sherman Pinckney, representing the U.S. Army’s 530th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion was the ISAF representative at the initial shuras. “We met with the leaders at the shuras, who provided us a long list of their ideal projects,” he said. “We evaluated this list and compared it to our overall mission, which embodies sanitation, healthcare and education.”
After making the key decision of which project to start, the next move was to select a local engineer to perform the construction. By utilizing local Afghan engineers, the Army was able to reduce security issues with personnel, while stimulating the local economy.
The school will provide a more promising future to these women. With this new capability, the leaders of tomorrow may include the women who benefit from this prospect. Along with the expansion of the classrooms to accommodate the expected student body, the renovations now features a venue for minds and bodies to grow both indoors, and out, as the school also boasts new physical fitness facilities.
Pinckney was not able to see the completion of the school, as his tour has ended prior to the deadline. In his place, U.S. Army Capt. Adriel Roberson of the 378th CSSB continued the project with the same precision and pace.
“I really wish I could be there for the opening of the school,” Pinckney states. “I am happy to have been a part of a program like this, as we are making changes to better the lives of the people in this country.”
There is a virtual sea of smiling faces welcoming attendees of the opening ceremony for the school. The young women display their ambition and the hope delivered to them by the partnership of their local government and ISAF to provide the beneficial resource.
The young women will attend classes in three shifts per day to accommodate the number of hungry minds eager for knowledge. The project possesses an undertone found in any institute of learning: an education is available, along with the possibility of a brighter future.