Decrepit school building

Why Do We Need More Classrooms?

One of the major barriers to education in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan isn’t what you might think. As populations grow and the education revolution takes hold, there simply aren’t enough classrooms to hold all the students who want to learn. This simple lack of classrooms is holding thousands of children back, and many of them are girls. How do we know? Along with research from various global relief organizations, we seek out counsel from the people living in the villages who are experiencing these problems first hand.

CAI was founded on the philosophy of listening to the people first, hearing their views and opinions, and finding the solutions that will work for each village. In order to reach the most people and maintain the ability to work in remote areas, we work closely with in-country partner organizations who help identify the needs, distribute supplies and materials, and oversee the construction and operations of the projects. They go out to the communities, listen to the villagers’ needs, let us know what really needs to be done, and calculate the impact of our efforts.

Our in-country partner Central Asia Institute Tajikistan (CAIT) put the Pish school first on the list to be rebuilt after speaking with the principal, staff, and parents of students who were worried about the conditions at the crumbling school and the distance they would have to travel by foot to reach a school several kilometers away in Vanqala. Many parents would rather take their children out of school than have them risk the dangerous conditions in Pish or make the long trek to the next town. 

While we often tell you about these projects and the reasons why they are top priorities for improving education, we don’t often have the opportunity to share the views of the people who will be affected by these projects. Mahbuba Qurbonalieva, director of CAIT, transcribed the answers to our questions about the school from the principals, staff, and parents of children at Pish school. Their reactions reflect the conditions of many more schools not only in Tajikistan but in Afghanistan and Pakistan too. These people are the reason that CAI exists and they are the people you are championing when you support CAI. Here are their answers.

What are some of the problems with Pish school?

“The condition here is bad. Bad sanitary and hygiene conditions which affect the health of the schoolchildren. The classrooms are dark, no floor, no roof, and children have problems with kidneys and lungs. The windows and doors and the building itself do not meet the construction standards.”

                    – Berdov Farhodbek, director of Pish school


“The school offers more than education for children. Pish school was built in 1985 by the villagers. The main problem of Pish school is that the school is in poor condition. I work as a cleaner here and I know how difficult it is for children to attend school especially when it was cold.”

                 – Khudonazarova Elchay, 51 years old, cleaner at Pish school

Do some children not attend school because of the conditions?

“Children have no choice, they do not attend this school, but they have to walk to another village to attend school. In winter it is too difficult for me to send my daughter to the school which is situated 5 km away. Who would want a second-grade little girl to walk through dangerous road in freezing cold weather daily? It is too difficult even for me to walk on icy and slippery road. How can you expect little kids to do this?”

                 – Garibshoev, 48 years old, father of a Pish student  


“Unfortunately in winter it is too difficult for children to study there and that is why they go to school #43 of Vanqala village which is 5km far from Pish village one way.  So the children of grades 0 to 4 have to walk 10km every day to attend school in Vanqala village.”

– Khojadavlatov Payshanbe, teacher at Pish school


“Children do not attend school in winter because it is very cold here. Also, the school is in emergency condition and we cannot guarantee the children’s safety. It starts getting cold here from November and continues till the end of April.”

                 – Berdov Farhodbek Director of Pish school

How will a new school help the children?

“New school will save the life of our children. Also it will save time and our children will have more time for learning.”

                 – Garibshoev, 48 years old, father of a Pish student


“New school will help them to continue their education, increase attendance and graduation rates. Usually, new building and new environment help not only children but also the teachers to be motivated. And thus the teachers and children will make more efforts for better achievements.

                 – Khojadavlatov Payshanbe, teacher at Pish school


What will a new school mean for the community?

“In the new school we can use one classroom for the children under 5 years old and it will be as Early Childhood Development Center. Children will not have to walk 5 km to the schools #43 and #48 which are situated in other villages and thus Pish community will have their school.”

                 – Berdov Farhodbek, director of Pish school


“The new school is important to all of us. Children should attend schools with appropriate services and facilities. The parents that worry until their children go and come from school will be confident as their children will not have to walk 10km every day and the children will have more time for reading and writing.”

                 – Khojadavlatov Payshanbe, teacher at Pish school


Why is a new school important to you?

“Education is the road that children follow to reach their full potential in life. So my duty as a father is to create the good conditions for my child in getting education. But unfortunately, I can’t do anything.  Our village is too small and situated too far from the center. There is no enough workplace for us. So we can’t afford to build a new school because of financial problem. The new school is important for the safety of my children. And we are very happy that such organizations like CAI are helping remote areas to solve problems. May God bless this organization.”

                 – Garibshoev, 48 years old, father of a Pish student


“First of all the new school will be built in our village and having your own school is great so that our children will not have to go to other villages to attend school. In wintertime, it is too dangerous for them to walk so far because of the avalanches and also wolfs. We also will be calm and confident for the safety of our children.”

                 – Mamadatoev Mavlonazar, 40 years old, works as a driver


Hundreds More Schools and Thousands More Students

Pish is just one village in Tajikistan whose children desperately need access to safe classrooms, and the worries and desires told by the villagers ring true in thousands of other small towns. Access to safe and warm classrooms is a top need throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. The fears shared by parents and teachers in Pish are echoed throughout the area, and these fears are keeping students out of the classrooms. Lack of safe buildings or even lack of a building at all are enormous barriers to education, but they each have a solution. You can be part of that solution. Learn more by visiting our website and make sure that where there are children who want an education, there are safe classrooms where they can learn.

2 responses to “Why Do We Need More Classrooms? Ask the Teachers, Parents, and School Staff”

  1. I thought this is what our money was going for – out there to these schools! Spend less in Bozeman and the USA and get the funds where they belong.
    Thank you

    • Hi Jane,

      Thanks for writing in. This is what your money goes to! There are so many of these smaller schools in Tajikistan that sit just too far from the bigger villages for the small children to walk to. They are all in poor condition and children miss out on critical early learning that puts them behind. This fall during Giving Tuesday we put out a call for a school just like Pish in Udit village, and the CAI community rallied together to make sure it could be rebuilt. Pish is the next priority for a new school, and there are many more. We brought you this story to show you what the people are saying and give you a little insight into the people of Tajikistan and their desire for education. Creating that connection is hard, but we know you and all our supporters help CAI because of these people and we want you to hear their voices. If you want to see where the money goes, you can take a look at our most recent Impact report: We are working on 2017 and should have that too you in the next few months. If you have any more questions or would like to talk to someone about these projects, please reach out.

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