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Reception in Honor of Afghan Woman Teachers
Remarks by Ambassador Said T. Jawad


04/29/2004

The Honorable Senator Chuck Hagel,
Mr. Andrew Parasiliti
Deputy Assistant Secretary Patterson,
Ms. Mary Ashley,
Mr. Tom Gouttierre
all our friends from the Department of State,

and of course our great teachers: Aabidah Stanikzai, Aarifah Nasirjami, Fayizah Wahaab, Fraybaa Faayiz, Kubraa Jami, Lailumaa Popal, Mansoorah Rijaa, Najeebah Nazari, Parween Taraki, Zarmeenah Sherzai, Ziyaagul Aslami, and Zahraa Husaini

It is my honor to welcome you all to our embassy.

I am proud of this group of teachers that are here with us this evening. You are our hope for Afghanistan’s bright future. Not only do you educate Afghan children and promote gender equality, but every one of you also serves as role models, especially to young girls.

We are grateful to the University of Nebraska for bringing you here. The University of Nebraska has a long-standing partnership with Afghanistan. The Center for Afghan Studies is world-renowned for its collection of materials on Afghanistan. The 5 million textbooks the University helped edit and print in Dari and Pashto and the training programs for teachers are significant contributions to the future of Afghanistan,

Education is the Afghan government’s highest priority. Our new Constitution, which provides for equal rights and full participation of women, guarantees free education to all Afghan citizens. Currently, 5.6 million children are going to school, and 35% of those are girls. This is a great achievement for a people that not so long ago were deprived access to education.

That being said, we need to provide Afghan teacherswith the tools and support they need to do their job. Unfortunately, only 29% of schools in Afghanistan are housed in a building. We need 2,500 new schools. The United States has once again taken a lead role in this field by pledging to build 1,000 schools in the next three years.

An important force behind US continued support for Afghanistan has been Senator Chuck Hagel. It is my pleasure to introduce him as a great friend of Afghanistan, someone who has continuously advocated the Afghan cause on Capitol Hill. I first met Senator Hagel in the World Economic Council in Jordan and have been very impressed with his devotion to Afghanistan.

Senator Hagel was the lead sponsor of the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002, which authorized economic, democratic development, and military assistance for Afghanistan. In January 2002, the Senator took part in a bipartisan Senatorial delegation to Afghanistan. Upon returning from the trip, he continued advocating for increased reconstruction aid, and an improved climate of security.

In addition, he is a co-sponsor of the Great Middle East Act, an initiative to facilitate increasing political and economic development and good governance in the Greater Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan.

He has met with President Karzai many times. He has often cited the Government of Afghanistan as a model for current efforts underway in other countries.

He has always said that “Afghanistan is the first battle in our war on terrorism. We must not fail.”

With your support, Senator, we will not fail. We are very grateful for the continued support and friendship provided by Senator Hagel, and are truly honored that he has taken time from his busy schedule to see his friends at the Afghan Embassy.

Thank you.