133 Zabul schools remain shut: official

QALAT (PAN): Up to 25 schools, previously closed for security reasons, have reopened over the past one year in southern Zabul province, where another 133 schools remain shut due to a lack of interest by the residents concerned, a senior education official said on Friday.
Education Director Rahimullah Lodin told Pajhwok Afghan News in Qalat, the provincial capital, that of the total 238 schools, 105 were operational. Nearly 40,000 pupils, including 6,000 girls, were studying in there, he said.
"We have schools in outreach areas, but local residents unaware of education's value are not sending their kids to schools, although there is no security threat," said Lodin, who added it was people's cooperation that had led to the reopening of so many schools last year.
The director, complaining of a shortage of professional teachers and facilities at schools, said local residents were being engaged in the struggle to reopen all closed school across the province.
"Most of schools in Zabul are run in rented buildings or under the open sky," he lamented, but voiced pleasure over the graduation of 80 teachers this year from a training centre that was inaugurated last year.
About his efforts at resolving the existing problems, Lodin said he had repeatedly shared his problems with the ministry, whose response had been far from satisfactory. "We need many facilities to keep the education process going smoothly."
Education Ministry's spokesman Amanullah Aiman, meanwhile, acknowledged that most of schools in Zabul had been shut, compared to other provinces.
He said though efforts were in place to reopen schools, yet people's cooperation remained necessary. He added up to 550 schools had been reopened across the country over the last three years, with 371 remaining closed.
He said Zabul was not the only province facing lack of professional teaching staff. Teachers from other provinces were reluctant to go to Zabul due to security concerns, he explained. He urged youth to come forward and guards schools in their respective areas.
Aiman said more than 20 buildings had been constructed for schools in Zabul and a new project was in the pipeline to build more structures there.
Deputy Governor Mohammad Jan Rassoulyar said more than 100 schools in Zabul had been closed and only 20 had proper buildings.
"High-ranking government officials don't visit Zabul to resolve people's problems because it lacks an airport," said the deputy governor, who added efforts were underway to improve the education sector in the province.
Zabul has been granted $1 million in this year's budget for the construction of an airport.