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NEWS | April 12, 2010

Afghan students work on green thumbs in Ghazni Province

By 2nd Lt. Katherine Roling Combined Joint Task Force - 82 PAO

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - About 5,000 Afghan students at Sanayee High School here are learning not only about math, history and geography, but also agriculture.

The Agribusiness Development Team in Ghazni, whose members are from the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard, led a small team of U.S. service members to the all-male high school, where they spoke to the assistant principal to verify the completion of a school project, April 8.

The project, which is similar to Future Farmers of America, uses small square-foot gardens and aims to give students a chance to work with the soil.

"Once we show the students physically how to plant trees and seeds, it will encourage them," said Abdul Sabur, the school assistant principal.

The ADT also learned that agricultural teachers were scarce. They offered to train the current agricultural teachers, and suggested a field trip for the students to Jungal Bagh farms, where they could see the work of agricultural experts in progress.

"Really, what it comes down to, is that agriculture is very important to the Afghan people, and we need to reach them at a very young age," said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Rodney Robinson, agribusiness marketing specialist. "What better way to reach them than through high school, because agriculture is one of the main sources of income for the Afghan people.

During their discussion with the assistant principal, the ADT discovered that the school was very popular with its students.

"About 350 students will graduate this year, and 90 percent will be going to a university," said Sabur.

The school, one of 20 to 25 schools in Ghazni City, encourages its students to become teachers.

"About seven students from here who went to the university came back here to teach," said Sabur. "We have some students who teach at the university in Ghazni now."

However, the faculty faces challenges inherent to a war-torn country. During the time of the Soviet occupation, their library books were burned, said Sabur.

The library is now used as a classroom to accommodate overcrowding.

Despite these challenges, the school, maintains its popularity and prestige.

"This is a very popular school in Ghazni City," said Sabur. "When people graduate from here and go to Kabul, they will ask the students if they graduated from Sanayee High School."