Friday, May 16, 2008

Afghanistan does not need terrorist training centers anymore!

The Ministry of Education of Afghanistan has announced that some of the donor countries are not ready to assist this ministry for construction of religious schools which costs about 200 millions dollars and this ministry has hoped to be able get support of some Arab countries for this project.

This ministry argues that by construction of these religious schools within Afghanistan the Afghan youth avoid referring to Madrasas in Pakistan where they are being mislead, trained and misused for terrorist purposes, while the donor countries have their own reasons.

These donor countries argue that construction of special religious schools in this period of time would be a waste of time and money because currently Afghanistan first needs enough number of ordinary public schools rather the specific religious schools which may be the secondary need and then after construction and completion ordinary public schools, that could be an option to think about.

At the same time the experiences in other countries of the region like Pakistan has shown that these religious schools can turn into terrorist training centers in long term, which is the main concern of the western donors of Afghanistan.

Education in Afghanistan
Education is one of the main sectors to be invested on and improved in developing countries like Afghanistan.

Most of the infrastructures of Afghanistan have been damaged in the wars and among the other sectors, education has been affected very badly and is difficult to compensate the loss and damages of this sector in short term, but with a full faith, loyalty and hard working and concrete planning, things can get better.

Although this sector has been under focus and there have been assistances for education system in Afghanistan by different donor countries namely Japan, the USA, India, Norway* etc during these years, but the damages in educational system of Afghanistan were more than to be amended this quickly and the need to have a developed educational system does not seem to be felt by the responsible officials yet, but perhaps within next fifteen to twenty years the Afghans will suffer lack of educated and professional cadres in the country.

This problem is not only in the primary and secondary but in higher education too; as a result currently a bachelor degree obtained in Afghanistan does not match with the standard of other countries which is just one example of tens and need more detailed discussions but in this writing we focus only on the activities of Ministry of Education not Ministry of Higher Education.

In Ministry of Education on the other hand, unfortunately due to misuse of funds and wastage of time there are still a lot of problems in three aspects; the contents of educational curriculum, capacity and privileges of the teachers and the condition of educational structures like school buildings, facilities and furniture.

Contents of educational curriculum:
The contents of the current educational curriculum in school text books are not updated, which is again because of the lack of a long term plans and a far vision of education.
There have been revisions on school text books in these years, but still because of existence of corruption, appointment of insufficient people in the compilation and translation department of Ministry of Education and of course, NGOism in this ministry all the efforts were useless and a waste of time and money when there was a low quality outcome in the new printed books; with a lot of mistakes as well as very costly.

Capacity, payment and privileges of the teachers:
Because of lack of long term or at least mid term trainings for teachers, most of the teachers in primary and middle education levels are unprofessional.
Mostly after finishing high schools, to do a job, people tend to become a teacher in one of the primary or middle schools even before attending university or teacher training institutes.
On the other hand, the professional teachers, most of whom are already old complain about the salary the government pay them.
School teachers are paid a monthly salary of 2000 to 2500 Afghanis which is equivalent to 40 t0 50 dollars while the very primary needs of life costs at least three to four times of this salary, therefore the teachers have to do some other jobs in addition to their teaching; as a result they don’t have to pay attention in their teaching quality and improvement of method of teaching.
Teachers are paid this amount of salary while in the ministry of education the expenditure of Minister’s Office and his monthly pocket money is more than thousands of dollars which is paid from the public wealth while at the same time only the over time salaries of Minister’s advisors are hundreds of dollars.
Latest serious of strikes, demonstrations and objections of the teachers in many cities of Afghanistan has revealed that even though their salary is very low, they are not able to receive it on regular basis. The teachers are not paid for three to four months, in this situation what can we expect from education of our next generation?!

Condition of educational structures like schools buildings and furniture and facilities:
Although millions of Dollars are being assisted to the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan for primary and secondary education but unfortunately due to existence of a corrupted administration and over shadow of negative NGOism* in this ministry most of the funds are being misused and or embezzled as a result many schools are even without basic facilities like class rooms, chairs or black boards, instead the students attend in under - the - tent - schools or in the open air on the dust.
This situation is born due to existence of injustice, discrimination and financial corruption that is rooting in this country. The poor and the deprived provinces are still without school buildings and the people of those areas do not have a voice to ask the government for a justice or perhaps no one listen to them.

Most of the schools that are so far built by national NGOs are not so good because of use of low quality construction materials in the projects and embezzlement of a big percentage of the funds.
A school project that is announced 100,000 dollars in reality only 20,000 dollars are spent on that project and 80,000 is being embezzled by two or three parties; representatives of Ministry of Education, the contracting NGO and even sometimes by the people in the donor organizations. As a result the project is very low quality and will not last for a long time. After two or three years, these schools get ruined again because of cheap construction materials.
Who benefits from these projects and who suffer is clear; Of course, only a few people will benefit for their NGO business and the people of Afghanistan will suffer the low quality and weak structured school buildings and educational compounds.

In this regard there are many complaints and petitions by the people of different provinces in the Commission of Complaints of Wolusi Jirga (the lower house of the parliament) but because of lack of an overseeing role by the parliament no actions is taken so far.

Any time the minister of education appears before media and press, he announces just the numbers and figures and statistics of schools being built just as words in the air, but never talks about the quality of these schools.
On the other hand, in practice there has not been a strong auditing and overseeing body so far to do an oversight on what the minister claims, while there are many evidences for his lies that can prove totally the vice versa than what the Minister of Education claims.

Therefore it would be better that the Minister of Education would wake up and really work for an ideal educational system and bring a betterment in this system then think about other additional structures and projects in this ministry.

Once again we emphasize it would be better for he people of Afghanistan not to spend funds for specific religious schools extra than ordinary public schools which are the real need in this period of time, but instead the contents of religious subjects in ordinary schools should be enriched.

And if specific Arab countries would assist this ministry to build religious schools in Afghanistan, we concern once again there will be an open way for the entrance of the fundamentalists and extremists into Afghanistan through these schools.

Worse than that, we are afraid of repetition of the mistakes we did during the 1980s and 1990s and that is to give an open hand to foreign interference in our internal affairs by the name of religion and religious brothers.

But before taking in hand this project, it would be better for transparency of this ministry, if Minister of Education would kindly answer some very important questions.

“What has done this ministry so far with its current ordinary public schools in different corners of the country? Why this ministry does not have a transparent accountability for the nation and international community? Why there is still injustice in rebuilding of those schools in different deprived provinces such as, Nooristan, Daikundi, Kunar, Bamyan etc? Why the basic salaries of the teachers are not paid in many provinces? Why there is still corruption in different levels of departments of this ministry? Why the quality of the text books for national level is not good?
Why there are still cheating in documentations of this ministry? Why insufficient and low educated people are appointed in important positions as advisors or so in this ministry?” And many more questions that the Ministry of Education has to answer them clearly and then claim for further assistances for its extra plans.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How long will Iran misbehave with and kill the Afghan Refuges?

Iranian officials should be prosecuted in the international courts for repeatedly killing of the innocent Afghan refugees!

Iran as a neighboring country in the west of Afghanistan has always had a two side and zigzag foreign policy with Afghanistan as its neighbor Muslim or brother country.

Since establishment of the post - Taliban government in Afghanistan the role of Iran has become very weak and limited than the time of Mujahedeen (The Warlords of early 1990s) in Afghanistan and thus since then the Iranian Officials have been still trying to rehabilitate their role and influence in this country by any measures and possibilities.

This dream of Iranian regime to gain and expand their role once again in Afghanistan as they were one of the main political role players during the civil war of 1990s, can not easily come true, when most of the western countries of international community and on top of the list the United States are involved in the reconstruction process of Afghanistan that are all in contrast with Iran’s nuclear programs, foreign policies and its role in the region.

During the last six years although the Iranian government has tried at least to pretend that they are happy and convenient with the new west supported Afghan government by taking some parts in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and committing to continue its assistances to Afghanistan in long term whereas the biggest projects they have done for Afghanistan are, some kilometers road asphalt in the borders in between to two countries and the railway they have promised to make in the border cities of both countries.

In this situation, Iran’s biggest concerns are the strong presence of NATO member countries in Afghanistan and then the strength of a western supported country just at its gates; Afghanistan which was just a decade ago under control of Iran.
Therefore in reality Iran’s fear from the military and strong diplomatic presence of the western countries in Afghanistan and development of Afghanistan would not let it follow in action what it says in words.

Thinking internally, after experiencing of the civil war, most of the Afghans do not trust their two eastern and western neighboring countries anymore, thus the influences of these Iran could not be rehabilitated as the past during the post -Taliban time in the urban areas and major cities where great number of population live, although they have had their projects, such as cultural and social centers, medical assistances, religious centers etc.

In this case the only point the Iranian government could count on and invest on was the frontier city of Heart in the north west of Afghanistan that has a border with Iran, where they could invested on cultural, artistic, social and commercials centers to have at least one open way for them in this country.

As currently Iran is involved in hidden wars in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine about a decade ago, during the Afghan civil war, alongside with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the Iranian government has had a remarkable role and strong influences on the internal issues and decisions of Afghanistan. On that time, they could strengthen their influence by religious and ethnic relationships and by logistical supports of different fighter groups through different channels to increase the flames of civil war among them and keep an open way for their own interferences as a Muslim neighboring country.

Since the interest of Iran relies on the weakness of Afghanistan’s infrastructures as a western supported neighboring country and Afghanistan’s development relies on the long term strong presence of International Community in this country and with this country on the other hand Iran is moved to an international seclusion by the countries supporting Afghanistan, so there is a contradiction in between the relationships of Afghanistan and Iran, therefore the Iranian regime, in order to reach to their goals, for two purposes they would sabotage the development process of Afghanistan; to keep Afghanistan weak and to spoil the efforts of the western countries in Afghanistan as they interfere in Iraq to revenge USA and its allies.

Although the Made in Iran mines, controlled bombs and weapons are seen and discovered with the Taliban during their terrorist attacks against the government and the people of Afghanistan, the Iranian regimes uses another pressure tool on the government of Afghanistan and international community to challenge both of them at the same time and that is the one and half million Afghans Refugees living in Iran.

Since 2005 seeing the weakness of the Afghan government Iran uses the issue of deportation of the Afghan refuges from this country as one of the pressure tool on Karzai Administration which last year caused a lot of casualties once during the heat of summer and once during the coldness of the winter; many children and women were dead during the deportation.

This issue then became a big challenge for the Afghan government and caused the interpellation of two ministries of the Karzai cabinet last year.
From one side, the are not enough work opportunities for all the returnees on the other side the government is not able to give them shelters to live which turned into a big problem for the government as well as for the returnees as a result most people would die of hunger and homelessness.

In addition misbehave with the Afghan Refugees in Iran and to deport them in different conditions, so far the Iranian border guards have twice or trice shot and killed some Afghan refugees who were crossing the borders illegally.

Once in August of 2007 the Iranian border guards killed four Afghan teenager refugees, and then in April 2008 they killed fourteen other Afghan refugees on the border and recently once again they killed four other Afghan refuges by the name of smugglers.
Therefore we want to government of Afghanistan to investigate the Iranian border military officials for their savagely killing of these Afghan refugees and to ask their prosecution in an international court.

Iranian Border Guards Kill Four Afghan Civilians

ZARANJ - Iranian border guards have killed four Afghan civilians and wounded eight others when they were illegally crossing border into Iran for jobs in Nimroz province, an official said on Monday.
A security police source who did not want to be named told Pajhwok Afghan News the Iranian border guards killed four Afghan civilians and wounded eight other after facing a patrol of the Iranian guards in Khwabgah area of the neighboring province late on Sunday night.
He added all the killed and wounded people were rushed to the hospital in the Zabul city of Iran. A letter has been sent to the border guards and urged them to explain and pursue the case.
Provincial governor Ghulam Dastagir Azad criticizing the Iranian border guards said Iranian guards should not kill Afghan civilians while crossing into their country illegally for jobs but they should only stop them entering to their country.
However, border officials have not commented about the elimination of Afghan civilians yet. (Pajhwok)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhh!! Don't watch television! Otherwise you would be killed!

This latest message was delivered by the Taliban in some villages of Logar Province in the central zone, southeast of Kabul on Monday night after the evening prayers in a mosque.

Based on evidences by eye witnessed people who have talked to media in this regard, about some fifty armed Taliban with covered faces came to the mosque and have announced this message to the people of Porak Village of center of Logar after evening prayers.

The armed Taliban have warned the people, if they watch television they will be shot, because the programs on these channels are non-Islamic and unacceptable for them.

They have also said, if they see any TV antinas on the roof of houses they will punish the owners of those houses.

This message is brought to people while a few months ago, the Taliban threatened mobile companies to stop their operations during the night and had specified a time limit, when they can operate, and after some of the mobile companies did not take it serious, their towers were attacked and destroyed in some provinces.

This time while Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan has condemned this action of the Taliban but indeed it would be better if this ministry would not give a hand to Shoraye- Ulama and Hezb e Islami (of Hekmatyar) for anti culture and anti- democracy decisions against the free media in Afghanistan.

A couple of days ago, there was a gathering of some Jihadi groups and some representatives of southern provinces in Kabul to talk, review and then facilitate the negotiations of the Afghan government with Hekmatyar (Hezb e Islami leader) and the Taliban to bring peace back in this country, while in practice none of these two group seem to match with the beliefs, thoughts, living styles, desires and demands of the modern urban Afghan society.

In the latest history while Afghanistan is in a move towards development, the needs to reach the latest information of the region and the world, demands access to media, press and other communication mediums and informative resources and the Afghan people need these mediums more than ever before while unfortunately they are being targeted and victimized sometimes by the government side and sometimes by the Taliban just for the primary rights of having access to information.

On the other hand, the military officials or diplomats of the countries like Canada or the UK who seem to have had some quiet talks and negotiations with the Taliban should know that the Taliban do not have any logics and are not reliable to be committed to any agreement, treaties or oaths with them, thus their talks with the Taliban would be just a waste of time and would cause loss of their reputation in Afghanistan.

Read about Taliban's ban on TV in other websites