His Excellency Farooq Wardak arrived in Oslo for an official visit on Saturday 21 April 2012, to hold meetings with Jonas Gahr Støre, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Kristin Halvorsen, Minister of Education and Mr. Eric Ramirez-Ferrero, Secretary General of the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee on bilateral relations between Norway and Afghanistan.
In this official visit H.E. Farooq Wardak, was accompanied by Mr. Emaduddin Seraji, advisor and Mr. Shakir Habibyar, assistant of H.E. Farooq Wardak.
During the meeting with H.E. Farooq Wardak, H.E. Jonas Gar Store, Minister of Foreign affairs of Norway pledged; even after the Norwegian military withdrawal the cooperation between the two countries in security and reconstruction parts will continue. He emphasized, the Norwegian government will continue and increase their assistance to Afghanistan, in training security forces and in social sectors.
Additionally H.E. Farooq Wardak met with Education Minister of Norway and the Secretary General of the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee, in order to discuss the importance of cooperation between Afghanistan and Norway. In the meetings he emphasized the importance of the continuation of the Norwegian contribution to the stabilization and recovery of Afghanistan in particular in the education sector.
As part of his official visit, His Excellency Farooq Wardak attended a seminar at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo. In his speech at the seminar H.E. Farooq Wardak elaborated on achievements and challenges of education system in Afghanistan.
In his remarks H.E. Wardak said: “The last decade has seen tremendous improvements in the Afghan education system, as in 2001 a disabled education system provided poor education to boys only where as today girls have equal rights to education as boys. Moreover the education provided follows a standard national curriculum.”
The Minister further shared some of his reflections on the lessons learned and the way forward: 10 years back the Afghan education system was in ruins, girls were excluded. Now the numbers speak for themselves: 9 million children receive education and 40 per cent of them are girls.
H.E. Farooq Wardak also emphasized that there are enormous challenges on the road ahead: Still 4 million children do not have access to schooling, there is a shortage of qualified teachers and only 40 per cent of the teachers possess the minimum requirements for teachers.
H.E. Farooq Wardak mentioned: “By 2020 Afghanistan’s population will be 44 million, with 15 million in school age. This requires many thousands new schools and teachers. How will Afghanistan meet these requirements? And his answer was: The Afghan government is committed to the constitutional obligation that provides education for all. The budget for education has increased by 40 per cent over the last years. More interestingly the demand for education in Afghanistan has increased and attitude towards education has been changed. Local communities now take ownership of education and schooling.”
He added: “However, the Government will continue its effort to strengthening local partnership when it comes to education. The Government also focus on the three central provinces with high population where the school infrastructure is poor; by introducing a greater degree of flexibility for people to pursue education while still contribute to the livelihood of their families.
Afghanistan does now possess membership in The Global Partnership for Education (GPE). The requirements for membership are hard to meet, Afghanistan made it anyhow. Education in Afghanistan is a story of success the Minister Education said, and emphasized Norway’s role in the development assistance in the Afghanistan Reconstruction Fund, where Norway was one of the first contributors. Norway has build and funded around 155 schools in Faryab province. In his conclusion H.E. Farook Wardak requested the international community to step up its support to Afghanistan in the field of education in the years to come as education is the best way to ensure peace and stability in a country and subsequently gave his warmest thank to the Norwegian forces present in Afghanistan.
The Seminar ended with a question and answer session, H.E. Farooq Wardak answered some questions asked by the participants regarding the education system in Afghanistan.