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MP backs TES appeal as Afghan schools reopen

THE chair of the Parliamentary group for Afghanistan this week called on fellow MPs to back the TES-UNICEF Children Helping Children campaign.

Tony Cunningham, MP for Wokingham, tabled a motion urging Parliament to welcome the appeal for encouraging schools to raise funds and help teachers and pupils in the war-torn country.

It came as thousands of schools re-opened in Afghanistan with lessons beginning in earnest tomorrow. Many will be taught in hundreds of tented classrooms because buildings have been severely damaged or destroyed.

Money is desperately needed to help train tens of thousands of teachers, repair or rebuild schools and supply 1.5 million primary pupils with learning materials.

Mr Cunningham's motion "recognises the importance of rebuilding schools and encouraging teachers previously prevented from teaching to teach again". And it calls on the Government to acknowledge the importance of the campaign "in developing a sense of responsibility among our young people as global citizens and to acknowledge the value of the contribution of children throughout the UK to their peers in Afghanistan".

Mr Cunningham, who taught for two years in Tanzania with Voluntary Service Overseas, and for 17 years in British comprehensives, said: "In Afghanistan a huge number of young girls - and boys - never had the opportunity of going to school. Yet their thirst for knowledge is incredible."

He praised the campaign for its focus on educating British pupils about Afghan life.

"There's a message from people in developing countries about issues that we take for granted. When I taught in Tanzania kids walked miles not to miss school. There were some with malaria who were in so much pain that they couldn't raise their head off the desk, but they were desperate not to miss a lesson in case they learned a new word or two."

The people of Afghanistan are also striving for an education, he said. "We've got to provide them with the means to do that."

International, 23 Ted Wragg, Friday, 31 Fundraising and teaching ideas: www.tes.co.ukafghanistan

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