President Bush said American schoolchildren have raised more than $4 million for school supplies for children in Afghanistan. The president used his weekly radio address to discuss U.S. humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
With the start of the Afghan school year just a week away, President Bush said, many of the children, especially girls, will be in a classrooom for the first time because U.S. troops and Afghan allies drove the Taleban from power.
"Under the Taleban regime, educating women was a criminal act. Under the new government of a liberated Afghanistan, educating all children is a national priority. And America, along with its coalition partners, is actively helping in that effort," Mr. Bush said.
The United States has already sent more than four million textbooks to Afghanistan, written in the national languages of Dari and Pashto. Mr. Bush said the books teach tolerance and respect for human dignity, instead of what he terms "indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry."
The president thanked American schoolchildren for donating to a fund he created for Afghan children. That fund has raised more than $4.5 million for notebooks and pencils, paper and crayons, soccer balls and jump ropes. He said the United States will also fund 20 teams of teacher trainers to help thousands of Afghan educators.
"In helping the Afghan people rebuild their country, we have placed a central focus on education, and for a good reason. Education is the pathway to progress, particularly for women. Educated women tend to be healthier than those who are not well-educated. And the same is true of their families. Babies born to educated women are more likely to be immunized, better nourished, and survive their first year of life," he said.
President Bush said U.S. troops in Afghanistan are entering the second phase of their war against terrorism, tracking down al-Qaida fighters who, he said, are trying to regroup to attack America again. "We still have a lot of work to do in Afghanistan. The brave men and women of the American military continue to fight al Qaeda forces that are trying to regroup and would like nothing more than to strike America again. And even as we fight terror, American compassion is providing an alternative to bitterness, resentment and hatred," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush has said the United States will continue to ship food to Afghanistan, while it helps to repair the country's roads and bridges and rebuild its health clinics and schools. In the fight against terrorism, he said, the goal now is to make every terrorist an international fugitive, without a place to hide or even a place to sleep.