A new school which will educate hundreds of Afghan youngsters has been opened in Spina Kota, a village in the Bolan desert five kilometres from Lashkar Gah.
Despite coming under several attacks from insurgents, soldiers from the Scots Guards along with the Military Stabilisation Support Team (MSST) assisted in the building of Shamsululam Primary School, known to UK troops as the ‘Pink School’ because of its colour scheme.
The school, which now has the capacity to teach 400 children aged from four to 15 years in comfort and safety, was built by a local company and its local workforce who used traditional build methods including constructing the compound wall with mud and straw.
Funding was provided by the District Stabilisation Team and MSST assistance was limited to providing advice as required.
The Provincial Minister for Education, Sher Agha Safi, travelled by road to the opening ceremony, which marked the end of months of hard work restoring the damaged school.
On the day of the ceremony, the children were excused from lessons and Afghan television captured the moment that the Afghan Government officials joined together with members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team to cut the ribbon and declare the school officially open.
Alongside the Minister for Education, also present were Mohammed Nabi, the Deputy Director of Islamic Studies, and Major Martin French, Second-in-Command of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards.
Mohammed Nabi told the schoolchildren:
You will learn skills in this school that will mean in the next five, ten or 15 years you can do a very good service for your country.
He then opened up a couple of boxes of notebooks and pens and the teachers handed them out to the excited youngsters.
ISAF Cultural Advisor, Captain George Vlachonikolis, said:
It’s really good to see the Afghan Government coming down and delivering for its rural communities like this.
All too often the focus is the city, but funding a school that can cater for all the children here, which is right in the middle of the farming neighbourhoods, makes a real statement of intent for this Government.