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The Block Haye Hawayee middle school in Mazar-e-Sharif currently has 2,195 registered students, but not even half of them receive their lessons in classrooms. About 1,300 students have to attend classes in the corridors or outside. Lack of space, high noise levels and extreme temperatures make learning extremely difficult. Many students gain little to no skills, while others do not even get a place at school. Their families are financially weak and have only a low level of education. Due to the difficult access to education, children have hardly any chance to escape poverty.
The project aims to improve the quality of learning by expanding the school building. A total of 12 new classrooms, a science laboratory, 4 administrative rooms for teachers and a library will be built. To improve the learning atmosphere and minimize health risks, 8 sanitary facilities including a hand washing facility will also be provided. In order to promote the sustainable development of the school, additional training courses and workshops for teachers and students will be offered, expanding the professional teaching offer and creating more awareness for the topics of hygiene and health.
The Block Haye Hawayee Middle School is located about 300 kilometers northwest of Kabul in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Afghanistan’s Balkh province. The school currently has 2,195 registered students between the ages of 6 and 17, including 1,057 girls and 1,138 boys. Unlike in most Afghan provinces, girls are still allowed to attend secondary schools here even after the Taliban took power, and the proportion of female students of 48% is particularly high compared to the rest of the country. Most of the children come from financially weak families with a low level of education. Before the humanitarian crisis, some of the parents worked as day laborers in handicrafts, but the majority was already without employment and regular income. The situation has worsened dramatically since August 2021 and the financial poverty increased in the whole country.
EXHAUSTED CAPACITIES AND POOR LEARNING CONDITIONS
The school building so far includes only 7 classrooms, where about 900 girls and boys are taught in 3 shifts. Due to the lack of space, about 1,300 students have to switch to the hallways or outside – even in extreme heat in the summer and temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees in the winter. The quality of teaching and the students’ ability to concentrate are severely limited by a lack of space, overcrowded classes and a high noise level. As a result, a number of students gain little to no skills despite attending school. In addition, there are many children from the surrounding area who do not get a school place at all because the admission capacities are completely exhausted. Although they are of school age, they are denied their right to education and have little chance to escape poverty.
HEALTH RISKS DUE TO LACK OF HYGIENIC STANDARDS
The few sanitary facilities at the school are in a desolate state. There is no water supply, only one makeshift hand washing facility and only 5 toilets, which are not sufficient for more than 2,000 students. Under these circumstances, it is impossible to maintain hygienic standards and implement important rules of conduct to protect against disease. The insufficient hygienic conditions mean health risks for all people on site and cause frequent cases of illness among the students and teachers and thus also the absence from school or the cancellation of lessons.
The project focuses on three central points: the expansion of the school building, the improvement of hygienic standards and the promotion of sustainable structures.
In order to create sufficient space and a better learning atmosphere, a total of 12 classrooms, a science laboratory, 4 administrative rooms for the teachers and a library will be built and equipped. To improve the hygienic standards, 8 sanitary facilities including a hand washing facility will be constructed. The new building, together with the existing classrooms, will finally provide enough space for all 2,195 students at Block Haye Hawayee Middle School!
In order to promote sustainable structures, there will also be further training for teachers and workshops for students and staff. The main focus of the training is to educate the teachers in science and to familiarize them with the new laboratory equipment. In the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) workshops, students are sensitized to the topics of hygiene, health and their interrelationships through training and practical exercises. There are also workshops on topics such as school management and team training for our partner organization OASE.
The local partner is OASE (Organization of Afghan Support for Education), with whom we have already implemented numerous successful projects in Afghanistan. The staff is very well connected in Mazar-e-Sharif and has valuable expertise in the local educational context. This know-how makes it easier to cooperate with the local authorities and schools in view of the current political events. The commitment of OASE in the difficult security situation is outstanding and enables the continuation of educational projects also in view of new challenges that come along with political changes.