By Army Sgt. Daniel Love
Special to American Forces Press Service
Aug. 21, 2008 - For the children of Bagram Village Girls High School, Aug. 19 was the start of a new semester. Students filtered through the gate the same as on any other school day, but they were surprised to see their school had changed since the end of the last semester. Thanks to the efforts of the Afghan government and U.S. forces, the school reopened with three new classrooms, running water, a fresh coat of paint, new desks and a wall surrounding the perimeter.
"You can see a lot of difference in the students' faces," said Naqeeba, administrator and headmaster of the school. "The students are good here without help, but we see that our government cares about us. It's been a month and a half since they came to our school and asked what we needed, and since then, we have seen good progress."
The five-year-old school has seen few improvements since opening, but hard-working students have made the school an academic powerhouse in the area. The school received an award from the Parwan provincial education minister for its record of having the most students graduate and advance to higher education.
"When the Taliban was in power, it was illegal for girls to go to school, but we never forgot how important it is to educate all Afghan children," Naqeeba said. "This school used to be housing for Russian pilots, but the government of Afghanistan helped us make it usable as a place of education."
Before the soldiers left the students to their learning, they helped teachers and local officials pass out backpacks with school supplies to the students.
"A lot of families can't even afford to buy paper or a pen for their children," said Subhanallah, a teacher at the school. "We don't have a lot of money, but I see a bright future for schools in this area. What matters most is the students are interested in studying and learning, and the people here see the value in education."
(Army Sgt. Daniel Love serves in the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan Public Affairs Office.)