Afghan Governor Speaks at Alma Mater’s Grand Opening
By Air Force Capt. Jillian Torango
Special to American Forces Press Service
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Jul. 23, 2008 More than 600 villagers and students attended the July 16 grand opening of the 16-room Obdara High School in the Anaba district of Afghanistan’s Panjshir province.
Gov. Hajji Bahlol of Afghanistan’s Panjshir province gives the keynote speech at the grand opening of the $237,000, 16-room Obdara High School July 16, 2008, in Panjshir’s Anaba district. U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Jillian Torango, Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Panjshir Gov. Hajji Bahlol, the keynote speaker, is a native of Anaba and went to the Obdara School when he was a boy.
“I studied in this same school before there was a building, and you are lucky to have this good building,” Bahlol said of the new $237,000 school. “When I was a boy, we used to study under the trees with only one teacher teaching 300 to 400 students.”
The new two-story building will accommodate at least 3,000 students from throughout the district.
“I know the challenges and issues that you face as students,” the governor said. “It was very hard for me to even buy a pen while at the same time I worked on my parent’s farm and studied. But now there is this good building with pens and supplies, so there should be no problems with your learning.”
After the governor’s opening remarks, the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team commander said a few words.
“This school is not only a symbol of your future, but it is also a symbol of sacrifice,” Air Force Lt. Col. Russell Kaskel said. “Some of your fathers and brothers were not able to study because of their struggles during the war for freedom. Those men were not given the opportunity to study, and their sacrifice has made it possible for you to study today.”
Bahlol has been the governor in Panjshir for four years, and one of his main focuses has been to provide schools where the children and the prospective teachers of his province can learn.
“When I became the governor of this province, two of the biggest issues were the lack of teachers and the need for school buildings,” he said. “There were only 14 school houses back then, but hopefully next year there will not be a community without a school.”
The schools also include a college that educates the teachers.
“The Teacher’s Training College here in Anaba is working hard to build our capacity for teachers,” Bahlol said. “[When a school is built], we will have teachers to teach in them.”
Bahlol noted that many of the doctors and engineers in Panjshir are from Anaba and went to the Obdara School.
“I hope this school will do what it has done so very well in the past -- produce good students and good citizens for Obdara,” he said. “I am very proud to say that I used to be a student in this school. Study as hard as you can, and you can do anything.”
(Air Force Capt. Jillian Torango serves with the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team.)