A government watchdog observed only three girls attending a U.S.-funded Afghan school that reportedly teaches 6,050 female students, and witnessed just one percent or less of the enrolled students at three smaller boys schools.
Only about 23 percent of the students reportedly enrolled in Afghan schools funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and 38 percent of those facilities’ teachers were observed during the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)’s site visits, the watchdog reported Thursday.
“Given that USAID has spent millions of dollars on the construction and rehabilitation of Afghan schools, and continues to spend millions of dollars on teacher training and salaries … the agency has a clear interest in ensuring that the improvements it reports in the Afghan education sector are based on actual attendance, rather than on potentially inflated figures,” the report said.
Specifically, 25 schools in the Herat providence reported an average enrollment of 2,639 students. The SIGAR, however, only observed 561 students on average. (RELATED: US Spent ‘Unknown’ Million$ On Afghan Schools)
In fact, only 10 students were observed at one school that reported a 1,200-student enrollment — an additional 25 were reported absent. Another reportedly 1,287-student school had only nine students in attendance during a site visit. A third school was closed when SIGAR went to visit at 1 p.m. on a Thursday.
Each school also reported having an average of 61 teachers assigned to each facility, but SIGAR witnessed only an average of 18.
Discrepancies between reported and observed enrollment and staff figures aren’t the only issues with the schools. SIGAR also noticed significant structural issues.
“Less than half the schools had reliable electricity, and two facilities lacked access to a clean source of water,” SIGAR’s report said. “Additionally, we found schools that had structural and utility deficiencies that could endanger students, teachers, and other occupants.”
Also, 19 of the schools had broken or missing doors, while 16 had broken or missing windows.
USAID “has disbursed about $868 million for education programs in Afghanistan” as of Sept. 30, the report said. (RELATED: Govt Investigator: Aid Money Sloshed Around Afghanistan ‘Like A Bathtub Running Over’)
There’s also a precedent for inflating student enrollment figures.
“A 2012 review suggested “that reported enrollment and participation levels in general education in Afghanistan are inflated by between 800,000 and 1.2 million children,” the report said.
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