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Education Moves Forward in Eastern Afghanistan

By Army 2nd Lt. Chris Connolly
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, June 23, 2009 – Leaders from Afghanistan’s Paktia province and the coalition’s reconstruction team there met June 21 to break ground on a new school and education headquarters, amid promises to continue to further peace and education for the eastern province.

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Gulab Shah, Zormat sub governor, hands Paktia Deputy Governor Mangal the ceremonial cornerstone for new Zormat District Education Center during a groundbreaking ceremony that included more than 50 provincial and district leaders and village elders, June 21, 2009. The Zormat District Education Center groundbreaking signifies a step ahead in security, governance and development for Zormat, Afghanistan. Courtesy photo

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“I will fulfill my promise to bring more schools to Paktia,” Mehrabuldin Shafaq, Paktia’s director of education, said at a leadership meeting, or shura, following the groundbreaking ceremony. He also spoke of goals to hire new teachers within the year.

During the ceremony, cornerstones covered in traditional Afghan pink wrapping paper were placed on the foundations of the new school and the future education headquarters for the city of Zormat. The new school and future Zormat District Education Center near the Zormat Bazaar is a promise that the Paktia government kept with residents, officials said. More than 50 senior members of the provincial, district and village leadership, in addition to Zormat Afghan National Police and Afghan soldiers, attended the ceremony.

Many of those who participated in the ceremony attended the shura, hosted by Zormat district Sub Governor Gulab Shah, afterward to further connect the provincial government to the local people. Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Moy, commander of the Paktia Provincial Reconstruction Team, and Army Lt. Col. Don Cullison, of the team, also attended the shura. “Education is the key to progress,” said Mulawi Habibullah, Paktia director of reconciliation, highlighting one of the major topics of the shura meeting.

Provincial Deputy Governor Mangal’s presence at the shura helped to emphasize the Paktia government’s dedication to the progress of Zormat.

“Just talking about construction at meetings is not good enough; we need more action,” he said.

Mangal also spoke of the importance of security throughout the process.

“Zormat is the heart of Paktia,” he said. “If we can maintain security here, we will maintain security for all of Paktia.”

(Army 2nd Lt. Chris Connolly serves with the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment public affairs office.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDeputy Provincial Council Head Shaista Jan Mangal (left) distributed gifts to the elders at a shura in Zormat, Afghanistan, June 21, 2009. More than 50 leaders from provincial, district and village levels attended the groundbreaking for Zormat's District Education Center and a school. Courtesy photo  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePaktia Deputy Governor Mangal, second from left, Provincial Education Director Mehrabuldin Shafaq, and other provincial and district leaders walk through Zormat Bazaar following a shura in Zormat, Afghanistan, June 21, 2009. Courtesy photo  
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