MARJAH, Afghanistan - --
Days after the ribbon cutting of the Balakino School in Southern Marjah, local workers ground out the dirty side of the job in another pocket of the district.
The Koru Chareh School, which will include grades one through eight, is the ninth school in Marjah that coalition forces have commissioned. Its opening is sure to be an occasion for celebration, but for now, the work continues.
Spade in hand, a man stands on a slab of crumbling clay mortar, disassembling a derelict building where the new school will stand. He chips it apart, block by cinder block, while other laborers salvage reusable parts for the new school or dig plumbing lines.
“We have essentially gone from a location where the Taliban have destroyed schools and chased away teachers, and students, and in a matter of months, we have turned it around and opened school after school,” said 2nd Lt. Joel Detrick, the Marjah cell operations officer for Regimental Combat Team 1.
The new school, scheduled for completion this month, will be located in North Marjah, next to the Koru Chareh Bazaar and Koru Village.
First Lt. Taylor Williams, the commander of Weapons Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, said all of the construction workers here are from Northern Marjah. The construction company is headquartered in Lashkar Gah.
In a district with more than 200,000 people making up the population, schools in the area have been a main priority for Marines, Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan government.
“The Koru Chareh Bazaar is one of the most successful places in Marjah,” said Williams “and the people want their children to get educated.”
The new school building will consist of six classrooms and an office for the headmaster.
Along with the building’s structure, the workers have already erected walls, a gate, several security posts, bathrooms, a well, and a soccer field.
With the new school pending completion this month, more than 350 students are currently attending classes in a temporary school located close to the construction site.
“Our temporary school is the most successful school in the area, with kids who want to learn and always come to school,” said Williams. “Our teachers come everyday and continue to teach the children because they know that the children are the future of Afghanistan, and educating them now will benefit the country and their town.”
“The [national Afghan] curriculum is taught at our school,” said Williams. “They learn Pashto, Dari, math, religious studies, and history. We also have an English class after school for the adults of the area.”
With the continuing improvements to life in Marjah, a sense of community is developing.
“The people have something to stand up for; they have a safe place where their children can get an education and have a future,” Williams explained. “The government is doing something about the people's needs, and the people want this to be successful ... so their kids will not have to fight like they have had to for the past 30 years.”