Afghanistan: Helmand schools in desperate need of formal buildings

A number of teachers in Helmand said that many schools in the province have no formal buildings while others were damaged or destroyed due to years of conflict.

Helmand took a particularly bad hammering during the war and was also badly affected by the drug trade during the years of conflict.
The province has 419 schools but 70 percent have been damaged in the conflict, according to the education department.

In one school on the outskirts of Lashkargah city, the capital of Helmand, classes are held out in the open.

“You saw at the school in Lashkargah that on one side, there are tents for classes and on the other side, there are belongings of the village residents. This has created hurdles for students. We face other problems as well,” said Mohammad Nasim Shakir, a teacher in Helmand.

“We face a lack of buildings. The school does not have surrounding walls and it has turned into a road,” said Mohammad Sabir, a teacher in Helmand.

Meanwhile, 31 schools in Nad Ali district in Helmand need to be rebuilt and provided with water, according to teachers. Also, a number of pieces of land dedicated to schools in Nad Ali have been usurped by various individuals.

“Of these 31 schools, we need to rebuild 23 schools; we are faced with a shortage of teachers and a lack of access to drinking water,” said Mohammad Majid, Taliban’s head of education department in Nad Ali adding that another seven schools have had their land usurped.

A number of Helmand residents said they are very concerned about their children’s future and wellbeing because of the absence of school buildings.

“Over the past five years, the government has been promising to build classrooms and toilets. Children at this school suffer from health problems both in summer and winter,” said Rahmatullah, a resident of Helmand.

“Children are struck by heat in summer due to the lack of buildings,” said Pir Mohammad, a resident of Helmand.

Taliban officials in Helmand said that out of 419 schools, they have rebuilt 32 of them and work is underway to rebuild 93 others.

“Out of 419 schools, we have reconstructed 32 of them and we have plans to reconstruct 93 others,” said Mohammad Ismail, a Taliban manager at Helmand’s education department.