New school in Hamdard village offers opportunities for children of refugees and internally displaced families
A new school was opened for up to 520 children from internally displaced families (IDPs) and host community families living in the township of Hamdard, near Mazar-e Sharif, the capital of Balkh province. The school is located in the village’s internal refugee camp and offers the camp’s residents and their children the possibility for a new start in the host community.
165 refugee families live in Hamdard township. Most had to flee their homes due to conflict, for economic reasons or following natural disasters. A proper school was needed to help refugees and their families get a proper education. Until now, children were only able to go to school in a rented building in the settlement. The building was in poor condition and without furniture for the students. They also had to be taught in two shifts as the school was not big enough to accommodate all pupils.
The land for the school was provided by the community of Hamdard, and the Balkh Department of Education managed the construction work of the building. Funding for the school building came from the German government. As Mr Axel Gugel, Deputy Consul of Germany to Northern Afghanistan, said at the opening ceremony, “520 children now have the chance to go to school where they will be taught in eight different, properly furnished classrooms. They no longer need to sit on plastic covers on the floor anymore. Especially in times like these, this school is a sign of hope.” The Minister of Refugees and Repatriation, Sayed Hussain Aalimi Balkhi emphasized today that German support was not limited to the funding of the school: “Germany has done a lot to assist the host community here in integrating internal refugees. Wells, latrines and shelters were built, and various trainings have been conducted.”
A female teacher underlined the positive development for girls in particular: “So far, girls had to drop out of school when they reached a certain age, because they were not allowed to go to school in other villages. Now, with the new school in Hamdard, these girls can attend school up to the 12th grade.”
Schools serve a number of functions, beyond passing on academic knowledge and skills. They prepare children for their duties as educated and responsible members of society. For internally displaced people (IDPs) and their children, schools mark an important stepping stone on the way to becoming recognized citizens in their communities. They also offer children a regular daily routine and distraction from bad experiences in the past. Ultimately, education is also the single most relevant factor in giving children the opportunity to improve their lives.
The new school building is part of an Afghan-German cooperation program, which supports the Afghan government in integrating internally displaced people in their new communities. With the construction of this school, the provincial government’s capacity to support internal refugees has been strengthened in line with the national strategy. The program is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in Afghanistan.
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