A renewed drive for girls education in Afghanistan took off today with the first airlifts of school materials supplied by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) as part of its Back to School campaign.
Six weeks before Afghanistan's children return to the classroom for the start of their second full year of learning, the Afghan Ministry of Education is taking delivery of new school materials supplied by UNICEF, with a specific focus on increasing the enrolment of girls at the primary level, according to Edward Carwadine, UNICEF Communication Officer.
The first of a total of 315 tons of "Schools in a Box" began arriving in Kabul this week as part of seven planned airlifts. Over the coming days, 782 kits, each containing enough classroom stationery and basic materials for 80 children, will arrive from UNICEF's Supply Division in Copenhagen. This delivery will contribute to a total of 3,200 tons of school supplies due to start pouring into Afghanistan for delivery to schools nationwide in time for the start of term.
"One of the problems we had last year was that the back-to-school campaign was more successful than we anticipated and more children went back to school than we planned for so there were shortages of supplies," Mr. Carwadine said in Kabul.
UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education to ensure supplies are available in 2003 for a total of 4.5 million girls and boys in Afghanistan's schools. The total cost of the supply operation is estimated at $15 million and the next scheduled airlift supplies is due to arrive in Kabul on Saturday.
Meanwhile, a similar Back to School partnership between UNICEF and the ministry of Education and Culture in Angola is set to be the biggest-ever education initiative in that country, with an anticipated 250,000 children returning to school on Monday. The 27-year civil war that battered the country until March 2002 left the educational sector in tatters, with 44 per cent of Angola's children out of school.