ISAF newspapers find new use as school books

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) newspapers are being used by local elders in the Nad 'Ali district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, to educate children in three languages.

The newspapers are printed in Dari, Pashtu and English, allowing the children to learn their local language as well as English.

Warrant Officer William ‘Taff’ Davies, Royal Air Force, is part of the Military Stabilisation Support Team working with soldiers from 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment as part of Combined Force Nad ‘Ali.

Warrant Officer Davies and his team have been working with both the local village elders and the Education Minister to help improve education for the village children.

The school in the village near Patrol Base Shahzad was destroyed by insurgents so the local elders now teach the schoolchildren in temporary locations and the patrol base provides a secure and ideal setting for education.

Afghan children using ISAF newspapers printed in Dari, Pashtu and English to improve their reading skills
Afghan children using ISAF newspapers printed in Dari, Pashtu and English to improve their reading skills [Picture: Corporal Gary Kendall RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

Warrant Officer Davies said:

I was confused as to why they wanted to take so many copies of our newspapers until a local elder told me that the newspaper is an invaluable source of information and education.

A shura - or meeting - that was recently held to discuss the educational requirements of the local children resulted in confirmation from the provincial Education Minister that a new school would be provided as part of a development project.

Warrant Officer Davies said:

In the meantime, the Military Stabilisation Support Team is providing valuable resources in the form of schoolbooks and pens, along with the newspapers, to facilitate the children’s education.

Part of the Military Stabilisation Support Group, Military Stabilisation Support Teams work alongside infantry battle groups in Afghanistan to promote stabilisation and report on local needs to the Provincial Reconstruction Team.

Organising projects such as providing school resources, wheat seed distribution or building roads help the local Afghan population build civil society and infrastructure for themselves, reducing the influence of insurgents and showing the benefits of legitimate Afghan Government control.