About the Author: Nicholas Mercurio serves with the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan."This education center is great news for the youth of Kunar," said Jamaluddin Hassani, director of education for Kunar Province, during his remarks at the Lincoln Learning Center opening ceremony in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on February 6, 2011.
The steady rain falling outside did little to dampen the spirits of the provincial government officials, State Department representatives and provincial reconstruction team members who gathered inside to cut the ribbon and officially open the facility. The center, located in downtown Asadabad, was funded by the U.S. Department of State and boasts 12 new computers with free internet access, a fully stocked library, and an English-language center.
"This education center is for all of the people of Kunar to use and, through the internet, provides a link to the whole world. It is also a symbol of the permanent friendship between the United States and Afghanistan," Bertram Braun said. Braun, the Department of State's Kunar Province representative, addressed those gathered entirely in Pashto, the predominant language in Kunar.
Hassani went on to speak of the great strides Kunar is making in the education field. "This year alone we were able to establish 31 schools and 109 unofficial village classrooms," he said. "There are 65 high schools in Kunar with plans for five additional agriculture-focused vocational schools. These achievements would not be possible without the support of Afghan Governor Wahidi and the coalition forces."
Fazlullah Wahidi, Kunar provincial governor and stout education advocate put it simply: "Education is the key to rebuilding this country. It is the most precious gift we can give."
Rafiullah Hidari, Kunar Province senator, provided some perspective in his closing remarks. "Our enemies can blow up a road, knock down a bridge, or destroy a school," he said. "No one can take away your education."