The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has spent some US$22 million, the largest logistical operation ever mounted by UNICEF in support of an education initiative, in supporting the "back-to-school" campaign in Afghanistan, a UNICEF official said here on Wednesday.
UNICEF has so far delivered more than 7,000 tons of learning supplies to virtually every school in the country in recent weeks, which are enough to cover the needs of 1.8 million children, Edward Carwardine, a spokesman for UNICE in Kabul, told Xinhua.
The materials include textbooks, writing pads, pencils, blackboards, instructor's guides, chalk, tents and many other items.
The Afghan interim administration, in collaboration with UNICEF and other international organizations, has launched an intensified campaign to get children, particularly girls, back to school since its establishment in December last year.
At least 1.5 million children are expected to attend schools across Afghanistan in the first few days of the new school term that starts on Saturday, when more than 3,000 schools in the country will officially open their doors. This is the first time in six years that public education will be freely available for all the children in the country.
As many as 1 million more are likely to register by May as word spreads that schools are functioning and supplies have been delivered, and another 1 million may register during the summer, when some Afghan refugees in neighboring countries are expected to return.
(Xinhua News Agency March 21, 2002)