Afghanistan Rural Education and Leadership Development

Afghan Horticultural TrainingAfghan Horticultural Training

Rural education is a building block for sustainable community development in Afghanistan. With training from Future Generations Afghanistan, three high schools in Khogyani District of Nangarhar Province are expanding economic options for youth and partnering with farmers and government agencies to strengthen local leadership and rural development planning.

Each high school is planning, designing, and managing a horticultural training center. These new orchards, are hands-on learning assets for rural education.

Mr. Fazelrehman, head of Khogyani’s Education Department, said that “In addition to the project’s financial and academic benefits for students, the project strengthens local governance and coordination between education, agriculture, and the community development sector, linking directly to country development.”

This rural education project provides a hands-on learning experience that will increase economic options for youth and involve many local stakeholders in horticultural planning. Youth and their communities not only learn horticultural skills and the value of trees for increasing family income, but they learn leadership skills in group planning to manage their horticultural learning centers and gain a deeper appreciation for their local environment.

School faculty, the staff of the Khogyani District Office, and Community Development Councils (CDCs) are actively involved in project implementation. Each school takes responsibility for gathering stakeholders for the site-specific planning of their orchards, which may include almonds, apricots, pears, pomegranates, and cherries, as well as other non-fruit bearing trees like poplars, pines, willows, and ornamentals.

Barbihar High School, Malikyar Hotak High School, and Khairmena School have finished the necessary land preparation, fencing, and construction of deep wells for irrigation. Since March 2011, youth and faculty have been planting apricot, lemon, orange, and pine trees.

In June 2011, 30 faculty designed an environmental curriculum that will help 2,000 students understand the local ecology, potential threats to the environment, and the benefits of tree planting and habitat protection.

More than 120 youth and community members have volunteered for the project. While large equipment was used to level the land, volunteers prepared the orchard sites, planted trees, and created additional plots for ornamentals and vegetables.

At a community gathering to share project updates, Mr. Abdul Wahed, head of Khogyani District’s Agricultural Department, commented, “I am confident of the project’s success and consider it a sign of tripartite linkages in the social life of this community.”

Farmers and members of the district’s agriculture cooperative show great interest in the horticultural program. Juma Gul, a farmer from Khairmena says, “I am very happy to see trees in schools. This will be a farmers’, students’ and community centre where we will share all progressive thoughts for the future.”

This project is part of a comprehensive strategy to build local capacity for governance and development planning in Khogyani District. Future Generations Afghanistan has been working in this district since 2007 as an implementing partner of the National Solidarity Program.

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