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UNICEF Re-Trains Afghan Teachers - 2002-01-15


March 21 marks the start of the school year in Afghanistan. But the United Nations children's agency (UNICEF) says a lot of work must be done before then to make sure the students are ready.

The U.N. children's agency says it is working with other organizations as well as local educational departments in Afghanistan to ensure that schools can open in eight weeks.

Spokeswoman Wivina Belmonte says part of UNICEF's efforts center on re-training Afghan teachers.

"Two-thirds of the teachers in Afghanistan were not able to do their work over the past several years because they were women," she said. "There are 20,000 qualified teachers for 1.5 million children so we are trying to improve their skills and make sure there are enough teachers for the school year."

Ms. Belmonte says week-long teacher-training courses are going on all over Afghanistan right now.

She says UNICEF is also providing special courses for girls because, during the years of Taleban rule, they were denied an education.

"We are dealing with 16- and 17-year-old girls who have not been to school for several years," she said. "They have the education of 11- and 12-year-olds. So in order to meet their needs, we have got 'quick-start' programs."

UNICEF is also working to repair Afghan schools and provide learning materials so that, when March 21 comes, the schools are ready for the students.

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