It was once called “the Burned School” and children weren’t able to attend classes. Just like many other things affected by years of conflict in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, Nahid Shahid School was the victim of violence that destroyed many aspects of the country.
But things changed for the better, and today, the school is not only renovated and back in business, but also trying to meet the increasing demand for education. The school operates daily in four shifts, serving 6,200 students.
This comeback is largely due to the Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP), one of a series of projects the World Bank and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARFT) have supported in the war-torn country.
Of all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), educating children — particularly girls — has the greatest impact on eliminating poverty. That’s why the World Bank has placed education at the forefront of its poverty-fighting mission since 1962, and is the largest external financier of education in the developing world.
Among the other projects the Bank and the ARTF have supported in Afghanistan was the Strengthening of Higher Education Project (SHEP), which aimed to progressively restore basic operational performance at a group of core universities in the country.
Because of the project, bright new buildings now stand in place of ruins at Kabul University, where the science faculty was destroyed during the civil war in the early 1990s. Today, about 1,500 students are studying science in the two faculty buildings. They represent a fraction of the 20,000 young people who applied last year.
Meanwhile, to prepare the next generation of bureaucrats and business managers in Afghanistan, the Bank and the ARTF supported the Afghanistan Skills Development Project (ASDP). Its goal is to help the next generation have the opportunity to learn the latest computer and accounting skills, among others.
As a result of this project, about 52% of the more than 1,000 graduates from the first batch found employment immediately while the rest are pursuing higher studies.
“Our country has experienced three decades of war and everything is damaged,” says Humaira Mohmand, 19, one of the beneficiaries of ASDP. “This program is teaching us to be good managers to help develop Afghanistan.”
This is the first step toward rebuilding any nation that has experienced conflict. It is why the World Bank strives to fight and end poverty, not only in Afghanistan but also around the globe.