Mazar-i-Sharif (PAN): Education in the Balkh Province moving ahead with tandem but the shortage of professional teachers, textbooks, and absence of proper building for schools create barriers to promote the vital sector in some districts of the province.  
Lajmir Afghanzoy, deputy officer in the provincial education directorate says: “We have 504 education academies including teacher training centre, literacy courses, and many other institutes but 15 of the education institutes have no proper buildings. In addition, we have 1,458 contract teachers, 10,199 government teachers including 4,225 female and 5, 974 male teachers both in centre and districts.” 
Going into greater details, Lajmir said that there are 540, 178 students being imparted education in those education institutions. As many as 311, 366 are girls while the rest 228, 812 are boys’ students. He noted with satisfaction that the current fiscal year witnessed the enrollment of 590,000 fresh students. 
Apart from government-run education facilities, there are tens of public and private universities and higher education institutes have been active in dissemination of education.
Balkh University Dean Mukamil Alkozai told Pajhwok Afghan News that 13,000 students are getting higher education in his university of whom 40 percent are girls. Alkozai said that literature, journalism, law and political science, medical, agriculture, economics, engineering, sharia, public administration, and computer science faculties are functional in Balkh University. He said that there are tens of other higher education institutions where 20,000 students are getting higher education.      
Challenges and Achievements: 
Education sector in Mazar-i-sharif is navigating on path to progress but the shortage of professional teachers and textbooks leave negative impact on its progress.
Atta Mohammad, Chaharbolak district education in charge told Pajhwok Afghan News though the people of the area are much enthusiastic to get their kids educated but the government do not extend the direly-needed support in the education sector to facilitate the masses.
He complained that the people of his area confront with the eternal problems of teachers and textbooks shortages while at the same time a number of schools have no buildings.
He said that there are 39 schools in the district and 17 of those have no buildings forcing the students to get education in an open area or under hired houses. He went on to say that 24,610 students are getting education in these schools of whom, 16,350 are boys while the rest 8, 260 are girls’ students.
He said that the strength of non professional teachers reaches to 80 percent, adding that textbooks could be disbursed among 30 percent students only. 
Balkh University Dean Alkozai said that a number of problems left negative impact on the education sector, adding that the major problem is the absence of proper buildings. Currently, they are handling their affairs from the polytechnic building. He went on to say that the new building construction is started in eastern part of the city on Kabul– Balkh highway where the engineering faculty building is completed and the construction of the economics and sharia faculties’ buildings under process. The construction of the engineering faculty building costs $18 million, which is paid by Pakistan.
The building of the girls hostel construction is also started with the US State Department contributed $2.2 million for the cause. The public administration faculty buildings construction is also underway with $2.2 million provided by the GIZ.    
Mohammad Akram, Balkh province Dawlatabad District resident said that his three sons are getting education in the district centre and the quality of its education is not satisfactory. He demanded of the government to pay more attention to expedite the education process in the centre with special reerence in districts.
He complained that the midyear tests o his son is about to be started but he is yet to get the text books.  How can a student pass the college entry exam without textbooks? He asked. He said that the government in apathy of not providing the textbooks cannot be tolerated anymore.
Balkh education department authorities admitted that they are struggling to resolve the issue of shortage of professional teachers and textbooks. Education department deputy head Lajmir said that the problem of professional teachers has been resolved in Mazar-i-sharif, admitting that the problem is still haunt the people at district level. He said that professional teachers are not ready to work with low salary package in far-flung districts.
He said that the problem of professional teachers would be tackled without further delay as his government has established professional training centers. The problem of textbooks shortage would also be resolved, adding that the problems haunt several districts.
Teachers and Students:
Ghulam Alis, teacher at the Balkh District Deh Razi High School said that they have the textbooks and teaching materials problem, adding that most of the schools face furniture shortages as well.
A student at the Imam Bakri School in Dehdadi district said that besides having no textbooks, the teachers also do not fulfill their responsibilities. The teachers are wasting their time by coming late and during the harvesting time; the teachers are not coming to schools therefore each year they left the curriculum incomplete.
Ghulam Sediq, an educationist in Mazar-i-Sharif told Pajhwok Afghan News that people have now realized the importance of education but the government has miserably failed to extend the needed facilities. He complained that authorities have focused on promotion of education only in the centre but education in various districts is in dilapidated condition, urging the government to bridge the gap by taking instant steps.