Maktabe Hazrat Osman School

Nahrin, Afghanistan
2005

Headmaster, students, and teachersThe school is fully functional with a staff made up of a Headmaster, 15 teachers and one chowkidar (custodian). There are approximately 500 students attending grades 1 through 6. Attendance varies due to field work requirements by the parents but on an average there are about 450 students on an average day. There are 12 classrooms and 3 UNICEF tents being used for teaching. Classes are held from 8 am until 12:30 pm everyday except Fridays.

During the summer of 2005, the entire school was painted inside and out with a thick sealer and a high quality paint. Enamel paint was used on all surfaces from floor level to a meter in height, inside and out for long term durability inside the classrooms and weather protection for the outside surfaces. A new well was dug, lined with concrete rings and a sturdy hand pump installed, complete with spare parts in case the pump needed any maintenance.

The headmaster, Mike, and the librarianA library with over $2000.00 US worth of books was organized and the kids showed a lot of enthusiasm for being able to keep their choice of book for up to 5 days. Each book withdrawal and return is recorded in a ledger which the librarians set up along with a set of rules which they felt would insure the long term utilization of the reading materials. The sports playing field was completely leveled and volleyball posts and a basketball hoop were installed. A soccer area was also marked out in another section of the playing field so different sports activities can occur simultaneously during recess. A playground with a slide, monkey bars and a swing set was installed with 6 inches of sand as protection. All windows facing the road and playing field were fitted with removable framed with steel mesh to prevent glass breakage while still allowing wind to ventilate the classrooms. Over 100 trees and plants were planted during the spring but most did not survive the combined abuse of the previous chowkidar, the mischievous tendencies of the occasional student and the harsh Afghan climate. The new Headmaster planted flowers in front of half the classrooms and the water runoff from the well helped them flourish.

The school was used as a polling station during the parliamentary elections and approximately 1500 Afghans exercised their right to vote there.

A one by two meter enamel painted sign was installed which listed all of the donors and some of the local Afghans who were involved in supporting this project. The commemoration was in Dari on one side and English on the other. I organized a first aid room and found 3 volunteer teachers to take a first-aid seminar by a local doctors (male) nurse.

An important gatheringA meeting was held between the village elders and myself and they voiced their unanimous support for the school. I held many meetings with the headmaster and teachers at which I suggested in the strongest possible terms that the school needed to be better organized, that the teachers needed to involve the students with a sports program and that the new chowkidar was required to look after the daily operational needs of the school more diligently than the previous chowkidar had. I made sure that the new curriculum books developed by two very well respected NGOs, Children in Crisis and ADA, were provided to the teachers.

Since last years seminars to teach the teachers about how to use teaching aids as well as how to deal with students under the new guidelines of the Ministry of Education were so well received, more seminars were asked for by the staff and will be held over 10 days during the winter months when the teachers have their holidays (Schools are closed in Afghanistan during the coldest winter months because of the difficulty for students to walk to class and the unmanageable costs of heating classrooms.)

The completed schoolI committed to providing seminars for the teachers for at least 3 years after the school was finished. This year, the seminars were sponsored by Zakia Kator, one of Hamayouns daughters. I stay in Hamayouns house when I am in Nahrin. Next year the last of these seminars will be held during the winter months. Although the staff would like more facilities, such as a purpose built storage room (for keeping everything from shovels to writing books, sports equipment and any spare class tents, etc), a wall around the school and more classrooms, I made it abundantly clear that any further improvements would be directly tied to their demonstrating that they were capable and willing to operate the school responsibly and that they were able to show more initiative towards creating a better learning environment for the students. How they do that is up to them. I simply made it clear that I saw a lack of enthusiasm in 10 of the 15 teachers. I could refer to it as blatant laziness, but that is so politically incorrect that I would never say something like that! And I would not support that. I guess that they are probably thinking that they got a lot more than they bargained for when they met up with me!

Schoolyard PlayI am tentatively planning to return to the school during June or July of 2006 because I just might be able to affect improvement just by showing up unannounced and scaring the willies out of them. I really do not want to tell/direct/instruct them as to what they need to do. Last year we wrote up a list of responsibilities for every member of the staff and they signed their names to the sheets which were posted up in the headmasters office/teachers room. I do not think that more funds are required now. What is important is for the staff to develop over time, a more organized school where teaching isn't just by rote but through activity based learning, where the library books are treated with respect and the librarians track down books which haven't been returned on time, where teachers don't hit students for any reason, where students feel that they have access to any sports equipment and the teachers not only look out for the kids welfare during recess but they insure that the kids look after and return the borrowed items. Other than that all they need to do is fix the water well hand pump every couple of years, grow some flowers and above all make sure that the latrine is cleaned regularly!

Now is that so much to ask?

I may well buy some more reading books though because I think that the students could easily absorb more. I may try and consolidate the first-aid practices if I see that they are lacking. I will be bringing a DARI version of a renowned medical manual called Where There Is No Doctor which has been a standard reference book for villagers lacking medical education for decades. I will be spending most of my time speaking with the villagers and elders asking them what they like and don't like about the school and what they think they could do to improve it or support its sustainability. Other than that, I plan on taking a long walk through the Hindu-Kush Mts by going trekking for a month through the Wakhan Corridor in northeastern Afghanistan.

Thank you very much for your support of this (off the map) project.

Mike Frastacky

Mike Frastacky was assassinated in July of 2006 for his work in educating young girls.
Under the Taliban's rules, girls are forbidden from attending school.

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Start of School - UN Tents
Start of School - UN Tents
Early Construction
Early Construction
Completed School
Completed School
Classroom Interior
Classroom Interior
Headmaster, Sudents, Teachers
Headmaster, Sudents, and Teachers
Teachers
Teachers
An Important Gathering (Mike 3rd from left, top)
An Important Gathering
(Mike 3rd from left, top)
Some of the Girls
Some of the Girls
A Student
A Student
Headmaster, Mike, and Librarian
Headmaster, Mike, and Librarian
Some of the Boys
Some of the Boys
Cute Kids
Cute Kids
Dressed Up for a Photo
Dressed Up for a Photo
Schoolyard Play
Schoolyard Play