A local Afghan worker shovels dirt as part of construction of the foundation for the Basulan School, here Feb. 13. (Photo by Cpl. Johnny Merkley)
COMBAT OUTPOST JAKER, Helmand province, Afghanistan (February 24, 2012) — Nawa District Governor Haji Abdul Manaf and Lt. Col. Matthew T. Morrissey, the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment commanding officer, participated in a brick laying ceremony at the Basulan school construction site here, Feb. 13.
The Basulan School is the latest partnered construction project undertaken by the local Afghan government and Marine forces in the district.
“For a long time the people in this area of Nawa have been anxious to see their young children able to get an education,” said Manaf. “This school will benefit the area greatly and it shows that we are truly making progress in education for our people.”
The school, being constructed in the village of Basulan, is the first means of education for children in this area of Nawa. Previously students had to walk over three miles to attend an education center, making it difficult for Basulan residents to send their children to school.
Since Manaf was appointed as district governor, eleven schools have been built Nawa. Together they provide an education to over 9,400 students.
With the completion of the neighboring Karzai school and the school in Basulan, educators will be teaching 10,000 students who before had never dreamed of attending school.
“Before I was the governor, there were no schools, we’re now about to build our twelfth school in the district,” said Manaf. “After the completion of the Basulan School, we can move forward even more and we won’t continue to need assistance from the United States.”
The governor understands the reality his district is currently facing. As Marine forces shift into an advisory role in Nawa and reduce their presence throughout the district, Afghan forces will take the lead in security operations. This will naturally place more responsibility on the district government to provide for its people.
With schools in place and proper oversight from district leadership, Manaf believes he and the people of Nawa will land on their feet.
“If you are passionate about moving to a better future then you work hard to achieve your goals,” said Manaf. “I have gone door to door talking to the people of Nawa, urging them to send their children to school so we can eventually have a better future.”
Being able to govern and operate effectively starts with locals taking responsibility and working together toward improving their community. This sentiment is already being put into practice at the Basulan School construction site.
“This school will be completely Afghan built,” said Morrissey. “This project’s success is completely up to the Afghan workers and contractors put in place to complete this project.”
“The people of Nawa are very excited to have the opportunity for an education,” added Manaf. “Many of the locals donated money to help buy the land and begin the construction process on many of our schools.”
With district residents building more schools and taking responsibility for the security of their community, coalition forces in Nawa are able to begin their transition into an advisory role. The Basulan School should be completed and its doors open to students within the next six months.
Editor’s note: Second Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghanistan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling the ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.