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Pupils show they care about Afghans

Schools across the globe responded magnificently to the TES-Unicef Afghanistan appeal this year. Brendan O'Malley and Adi Bloom report

GENEROUS TES readers this year raised a fantastic pound;217,761 to help the children of war-torn Afghanistan. The money is being used to buy much-needed educational materials as Afghan pupils flock back to the classroom.

Schools across the world staged sponsored events to help meet the thirst for education in the country. The rush to learn comes after years of neglect of education under the Taliban, especially of girls, who were banned from schools from the age of eight.

More than 500 British schools gave to the Children Helping Children appeal, with donations ranging from pound;1 to pound;12,500.

International schools in France, Germany and Holland, and as far afield as the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Brunei and Bermuda also took part.

The appeal was backed by former Education Secretary Estelle Morris, more than 100 MPs and a host of celebrities including footballer Ryan Giggs and actor Roger Moore.

Bob Doe, TES editor, said: "These schools taught their pupils the most important lesson of all: that they can do something to help others, no matter how desperate or far-off their situation seems."

Ted Wragg, appeal chairman, said: "This has been a sensational effort. It is moving that so many children have shown they care about others who are thousands of miles away."

Up to three times the expected 1.78 million pupils have enrolled in what remains of Afghanistan's schools since their doors reopened in March. Half-ruined classrooms, many with missing roofs, windows and doors and shell holes in the walls, are packed with pupils aged six to their early 20s, many of them attending school for the first time.

Before Unicef intervened, most Afghan pupils had no textbooks or writing materials. With the help of British children and other aid efforts,Unicef is trying to supply stationery and textbooks, train teachers and repair schools.

The pound;217,761 raised by the Children Helping Children appeal is enough to buy notebooks for more than 3 million pupils, almost a million storybooks or chalkboards for 50,000 classrooms.

It will help an aid effort which in September alone saw Unicef supply stationery for 1.2 million primary and 300,000 secondary pupils and training in use of the materials for 30,000 teachers. So far 55 schools have been refurbished and repairs continue in 201 more.

Pupil Tarran Sanghera, aged 10, of Mellor community primary, Leicester, which raised pound;250, said: "Now I would like to raise money for children in other parts of the world, so they can read and write and understand like us."

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