Panshir PRT opens school
Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team members and villagers gather outside the Perengal School preceding the school’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in Dara district, Afghanistan, May 17, 2011.

PANJSHIR, Afghanistan, May 27, 2011 -- Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team members, government officials, school children and villagers attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Perengal School in Dara district, Afghanistan, May 17, 2011.

Children lined the road to the new school to greet visitors as they approached for the ceremony.

Visitors included the provincial deputy governor, a ministry of education representative, the education director, the district governor and the Provincial Reconstruction Team, or PRT, commander.

“Ever since my team and I arrived in Panjshir, we’ve always felt welcome,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Joseph Blevins, PRT commander. “But I’ve never felt more welcome than I did today as the school children lined the road to greet us.”

The Community Development Council, a group of Afghans who address the needs of their community, brought the need to build the Perengal School to the attention of the PRT who funded the project.

“This valley needed this school and the people here are very thankful for it,” said Dara district Gov. Malem Sorab, through an interpreter. “The students used to have to study in rented houses and some were sitting under trees for school lessons.”

Construction of the eight-classroom school began in July 2008.

“The school will provide 238 boys a place to continue their lessons,” said Perengal School Principal Mahmood Ahmadi, through an interpreter. “We are thankful for this school because it has been built with good quality and high standards.”

Ahmadi said he believes there are three fundamentals needed to build capacity for education: a good building, good teachers and good equipment.

“Today this school gives us one of the fundamentals we need for our children to get education,” said Panjshir Deputy Gov. Abdul Rahman Kabiri, through an interpreter.

The district governor asked all the people present to help preserve the school and ensure the school achieves its potential.

“We have given you the school. Now, I would like you to help us maintain the school,” said Sorab. “I would like the school students to work hard and the director of education to work on building the capacity to bring good quality teachers here.”

During the ceremony, boys from the Taza Mahamad Shaheed High School Banner Team sang “Maariff,” which means education. The team sang, “We are people of education; education is our job. It doesn’t matter if we are male or female but we are responsible for getting knowledge. We are proud of getting an education,” relayed through an interpreter.

The PRT commander stressed the importance of working together and working through the government.

“The PRT works with the people through the government to identify projects, and we will continue to do that until we leave,” said Blevins from Oregonia, Ohio. “Shana ba shana, dast ba dast,” translated to mean shoulder-to-shoulder, hand-in-hand.

The deputy governor reflected on the importance of what has been put in the hands of the youth.

“The holy Quran says that learning is obligatory for every individual, man or woman, because if you are uneducated, you are blind and living in darkness,” said Kabiri. “When Allah gives someone education, it means he has all the world in his hand.”

Page last updated Mon May 30th, 2011 at 00:00