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Estonian Students and Foreign Ministry Feel Guaranteeing Afghan Children’s Access to Education is Essential for Future of Country

06.12.2011

No. 391-E

Students in the Estonian schools that have friendship schools in Afghanistan gave a joint letter to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet today in which they focused on the educational situation in Afghanistan.

Over the past ten years the number of children attending school in Afghanistan has grown rapidly. However, there are still regions of the country where half of the children are not in school. In their letter, the students made a list of the main factors that prevent children in Afghanistan from getting an education and offered solutions so that by the year 2020 basic education would be available to every child in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that Estonian students share the same position as the Foreign Ministry, which is that it is essential to develop the education sector in Afghanistan. “When visiting Afghanistan I have also visited the schools there, and nowhere else have I seen the enthusiasm to learn that is possessed by Afghan children. The ideas and suggestions outlined by the children in their letter confirm that focusing on the promotion of education in Afghanistan is of vital importance to the development of the country,” he noted.

At the meeting, Foreign Minister Paet expressed thanks to the participants in the Estonia-Afghanistan friendship school project. “Many thanks to the students and teachers and of course the Jaan Tõnisson Institute, Mondo, and especially Maari Rossi, who has put forth a great deal of effort to make sure this project succeeds,” said Paet.

The manifest was written by schoolchildren from schools in Estonia, Sweden, Great Britain, and Slovakia who have friendship schools in Afghanistan, and a similar event was being held in all four countries at once. The organisers were the Jaan Tõnisson Institute (Estonia), Afghan Connection (UK), Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (Sweden), and People in Peril (Slovakia).

On 24 November Estonian students also presented the manifest to the Parliament of Great Britain. The manifest was received by members of Parliament, British Minister for International Development Alan Duncan, and Afghan Minister of Education Farooq Wardak.

The manifest can be read here:
http://www.vm.ee/sites/default/files/6pilaste_manifest_afga_haridus.pdf

Through the co-operation of four European non-profit organisations, 60 European schools have found friendship schools in Afghanistan. There are 11 Estonian schools participating, which all have friendship schools in Northern Afghanistan. Schools exchange packages with their friendship schools and organise video chats using Skype, and Estonian schools have also provided financial support for Afghan schools. Many Estonian teachers and journalists have also visited Afghanistan.

The following Estonian schools have friendship schools in Afghanistan: Alatskivi Secondary School, Antsla High School, Kuressaare High School, Laulasmaa School, Põlula School, Põlva High School, Tallinn Laagna Kindergarten and Basic School, Tartu Hiie School, Old Town Educational Collegium, Tallinn Technology High School, and Tallinn Pae High School.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry

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