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The Khoja Mohammad Parsa primary school is located in one of the poorest districts of the Afghan capital of Kabul. The around 600 students come from economically weak and socially underprivileged families. The school building and the sanitary facilities are in such a desolate condition that the children were evacuated to a neighboring school due to the danger of a potential collapse. But even in the new location, a dangerous way to school and a lack of space impair the quality of learning and the attendance rate. Together with our local partner OASE, we plan to build new classrooms and sanitary facilities for the Mohammad Parsa primary school. In addition, the construction work is supplemented by hygiene workshops and training for teachers. This way, not only the learning environment, but also the appropriate quality of learning can be ensured.
Around 350 girls and 250 boys, a total of 600 students between the ages of 6-13 are registered at the Khoja Mohammad Parsa primary school in Kabul. The school is located in one of the poorest districts of the old town in Kabul. Compared to the new town, the district is less developed and modernized. Power and water are only partially available. Most of the residents of the old town come from economically weak backgrounds with a low level of education. If they are regularly employed, they are mostly employed in handicraft working, followed by simple traders and a few government employees. As in other districts of Kabul, child labor is part of everyday life.
The school building is a former residential building that was donated to the Ministry of Education. The building, as well as the associated latrines, are in a desolate condition. For this reason, the school was evacuated five years ago due to the risk of collapse and has been empty since then. Due to financial constraints, the Ministry of Education has not yet carried out any reconstruction or renovation of the buildings, nor are any similar measures planned in the near future.
Currently the students are taught in the classrooms of the Aryana highschool. To provide enough space for all students, classes do not take place as usual in two, but rather in three shifts. Overall, this means less teaching time for all students. As every year the number of new students rises, the already limited capacities are even less sufficient. In addition, the way to school includes a life-threatening crossing of a highway. This is an unreasonable danger, especially for the younger students.
After several visits to the school by our colleague on site and discussions with the headmaster, the teaching staff and some students, it became clear that the school needs urgent support. The core of the project is the construction of 12 classrooms, 4 offices, 6 toilets and a hand-washing facility. For this construction work, engineers recommended demolishing and rebuilding the school. At least six of the new classrooms and the toilet facility with six individual cabins will be fully accessible. The existing water pipes in the ground floor of the property will be tapped to supply the hand-washing system. The water will be pumped into the water tank by a new water pump, which in turn can be used to operate the new hand-washing facilities.
At the Mohammad Parsa primary school many teaching methods are outdated, and the courses are not very diverse, as there is a lack of training opportunities for teachers. That is why we are planning 12-day method and calligraphy workshops for the 22 teachers. To ensure that the students have the opportunity to also develop creativity, in addition to the classic teaching skills in the method workshops, teaching methods and content from creative subjects such as calligraphy, painting and drawing are also addressed. These are usually insufficiently addressed in the training of teachers, although calligraphy is an important, culturally anchored and respected art in Afghanistan.
Furthermore, WASH workshops (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) are planned for all students, teachers and employees of the school. They should playfully explain the use of water and the importance of hygiene. Through small exercises in the form of games or by means of a course, the students go through and internalize the entire hygienic processes of going to the toilet, the subsequent hand-washing or the correct brushing of teeth. In addition, relevant virus prevention measures are addressed in these workshops. This is very important especially with regard to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The virus spread enormously in Kabul, while many people could barely understand what was happening or why they should behave differently because information was not disseminated sufficiently.
In addition, there will be a small program at the end of the project to create ownership in the entire school community. This means that they can identify with the new structures and develop personal responsibility. This includes, for example, the joint painting of a selected school wall or the sanitary facilities. This shall create a feeling of belonging and pride towards the school and motivates everyone to attend school and maintain the structures.
Another activity relates to our local partner organization OASE. They are still in the process of development but consist of members of our long-term partner organization VUSAF, with which we have successfully completed several projects in Afghanistan. OASE expressed a need for training to support their development, which we are very happy to meet. Topics being considered related to organizational development – such as creation of the vision, mission, strategy, objectives, responsibilities and roles in the team.
In order to measure the project‘s impact on the quality of learning, a professional external evaluation is planned. The results will help us to plan and implement future projects even more effectively.
The total project costs of the mentioned measures amount to approx. €482,621. The BMZ is subsidizing this project in the amount of around €321,000. We receive further financial support for this project from the Cetto Foundation, the Stiftung Asienbrücke, the Kinderbeirat Hannover and München, the Nader Etmenan Stiftung and HAWAR.help. For raising the remaining funds, we are still dependent on donations.
The construction work at Mohammad Parsa Elementary School in Kabul is progressing faster again. The next steps include: work on the roof, attaching the doors, building the well and painting the in- and exterior. The construction work should be completed by the end of August.
While the construction work was at a standstill during the winter months (Dec. 2021 - March 2022), some work took place to prepare for the resumption of the construction work. After the New Year and Spring Festival Nauruz (21 March 2022), the construction work finally started again. So at the moment many things are going on in parallel like the completion of the main building and the construction of the toilet block. At the same time, the local partner OASE reactivated the school development committee of the school. In the four meetings so far, the participants appreciated the progress at the school and collected important suggestions for the next steps.
Shortly before the onset of winter, the second floor of the shell of the main building has now been completed. As the winter in Afghanistan is very cold, the construction work will be paused for the next few weeks.
The shell of the new two-story school building is almost finished. We are very happy that the construction work could continue in the last weeks despite the current developments in the country. The project had been delayed a little due to a late start to construction, the effects of the pandemic and the tense political situation. However, since the Taliban took power, around 200 of the 600 students are currently no longer attending classes at the transitional school. According to the principal, most of them sell plastic bags instead to support their families financially.
The project was delayed due to a late start of construction, the effects of the pandemic and the tense political situation. Also the planned workshops for students, teachers and school employees have to be postponed to the next year, also in the hope of a higher attendance rate than currently in the schools. We have therefore submitted an amendment to the BMZ for the project to run until 31.08.2022.
Despite the critical security situation and the third Corona wave, schools were fortunately able to open for students' midterm exams. Active efforts are being made to avoid another school closure and to make up for the postponed COVID-19 workshops soon. However, the situation here is still unclear. As for the construction work, it is going on as planned and the pillars of the school building are being raised.
Thanks to the trainings on hygiene measures, construction work continued despite ongoing lockdown and closed schools due to the third COVID-19 wave. Following the successful completion of foundation work on the site, the walls of the new school building are now going up.
After demolition and laying of the foundation stone, preparations for the new buildings at the Mohammad Parsa School in Kabul are in full swing. After staking out the areas where classrooms, offices and sanitary facilities will soon be built, the excavation and foundation work as well as the levelling of the terrain were completed.
In our school construction project, the foundation stone for the new building has now been laid. With this, the construction of the 12 classrooms and sanitary facilities can begin.
A highlight of Hila's project trip was the start of construction at the Mohammad Parsa School. In the school construction project, after the long winter and some difficulties regarding the building permit, the construction work could finally start. The ruinous building will be completely reconstructed. For about 600 students 12 classrooms, 4 offices, toilets and a hand washing facility will be built.
Our chairwoman, Hila Limar, is visiting the Primary School Khoja Mohammad Parsa for the first time and discusses procedures with our partner OASE.
Our member, Winuss, assesses the initial situation. The dilapidated school is badly in need of our support.