As concerns grow over lack of teachers and textbooks in schools both in Kabul and other provinces, senators on Sunday summoned education ministry officials and said they see an uneven distribution of resources among the nation's schools.
Some senators called the education issues “catastrophic,” and said the obstacles need to be removed with an effective plan.
A month after the start of the current school year, many schools are faced with lack of textbooks, teachers and, in some cases, proper building and other needs, as the senators described.
The senators said there are some schools in Kabul that have not been given a building or chairs over the last eight years and that this year they face a severe lack of textbooks and teachers.
“Some students have studied until the eighth year, but they have had a wish to sit on chair and study,” said Fawzia Sadat Samkanai, a senator.
Other senators, meanwhile, criticized what they called unjust distribution of new posts by the Education Ministry to certain provinces. They said that out of 1,100 new posts this year, the ministry allocated 800 of them to Nangarhar and Kandahar provinces.
“When there isn’t teacher or book, what is the importance of having a school or classroom?” asked Amina Afzali, a senator and a member of the education committee of the Senate.
The acting minister of education, Rangina Hamidi, was summoned to appear at the Senate, but she didn’t appear at the meeting.
However, the deputy minister of education, Ataullah Wahidyar, said that 94% of the budget allocated for the ministry is spent on the salaries of its employees, and that only 4% is left for other activities.
He said that resources have been distributed unjustly over the last few years, citing some schools that have one teacher for 70 students.
“When you want to teach 15 subjects, you should publish (textbooks) for 15 subjects, when you want to publish three subjects you should publish textbooks for three subjects; therefore, one of our reforms is in quorum that will address the 20 percent lack of teachers,” Wahidyar said.
“I confirm--as an education authority--that there is lack of balance in Afghanistan’s education,” he said.
But some senators said the responses province by the education officials were not satisfactory.
This comes as officials of some schools in Kabul say they face a severe lack of textbooks in their schools.
Haji Paik high school in Kabul’s Shakardara district, with 1,400 students, is one among dozens of other schools in Kabul that are faced with a lack of teachers and textbooks, as teachers and students described.
“Some days, we study two hours a day, some days one hour and some days half an hour. Our days go like this,” said Frank, a student at Haji Paik high school.
“We are faced with a lack of teachers. We do not have chairs in classrooms. One classroom is combined with another and we study jointly,” said Yusra, another student at the school.
Farahnaz, who graduated from Haji Paik high school four years ago, now teaches at the school as a volunteer.
“The school administration accepted me as a teacher. I teach here as a volunteer as the school needs help,” Farahnaz said.