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Ambassador Addresses Colgate Community
Carolyn Godfrey
The Mid-York Weekly & Pennysaver

Said Tayeb Jawad, Afghanistan's Ambassador to the United States, told members of the Colgate community last night that over the past 30 years of turmoil the people of Afghanistan didn't "ignore" the educational system, they "purposely destroyed it."

The Ambassador was the featured speaker at a presentation entitled "Networks of Knowledge Against the Networks of Violence: The Case for Global Partnership."

Jawad explained that 69% of the women in his country are unable to read and over 80% of the schools or libraries have been either damaged or destroyed. Of the remaining schools only 29% have roofs, he added.

"But despite all this, kids are going back to school by the hundreds, even thousands," he said.

The desire to learn has grown to the point where some schools are operating in three shifts to meet the challenge. Acknowledging the importance of education, the Afghanistan government now provides total financial support for students from kindergarten through the college level.

Jawad added that his country is no longer just a bridge of trade and opportunity but also a bridge to the international community

"We feel it's important to invest in the education of our people - for they are our future," he said. "Our young people are eager to learn, very eager to partner with that international community."

The presentation was held as part of "Education and Development: Building Sustainable Systems of Higher Education in Developing Countries," a three day conference on the Colgate campus. One focus of the conference has been the role American institutions can play in supporting educational systems of developing nations, specifically Afghanistan.

With its Project Afghanistan initiative, the University has taken an active part in the supporting Afghanistan's educational programs. Since its founding in April 2005, the initiative has redesigned the computer science curriculum at Kabul University, conducted workshops on the changes, and continued to develop course materials for the new curriculum under a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).


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