By Army Pfc. Derek L. Kuhn
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 11, 2009 - More than 1,000 students at a decrepit school in eastern Afghanistan won't have to wait more than a year for their new school to be built to learn in better conditions, thanks to a coalition team here. Members of Task Force Warrior's Provincial Reconstruction Teams joined forces recently with the local government here to provide temporary shelter for local students whose school is in disrepair.
The Shadhatay School, which would be considered condemned by most western standards, has numerous broken windows, holes in the ceiling and mold infestation throughout. Instructors at the school have been holding classes outside since the building, originally intended for 400 students, will no longer hold the 1,250 students currently enrolled.
"The school is very run down," said Air Force Master Sgt. Todd Davis, an engineer for the Kapisa Province PRT. "There is a new school being built, but that is about a year away from completion, so we wanted to provide some temporary protection from the elements for the students."
Local residents are pleased with the temporary solution: tents, which feature mesh-screened windows to allow greater air-flow, provide shelter from the elements. The temporary shelters also reduce distractions from the outside world – challenges that make being a student in the Alasay district here difficult.
"The tents are very good; they will protect the students from the sun, wind, and rain," said Amrullah, the Shadhatay headmaster. "The teachers are very happy because now they won't have a problem with the students looking around and not paying attention during class. They will [also] be able to teach better, because they'll be more comfortable."
According to Davis, missions like this one are very rewarding and an integral part of the PRT's mission. However, the most rewarding aspect of the project is its implications for the future, the headmaster added.
"Education is the key," Amrullah said. "With education, the future of Alasay and Afghanistan is 100 percent brighter."
(Army Pfc. Derek L. Kuhn serves with the 40th Public Affairs Detachment.)