Female Engagement Team visits Afghan students, delivers school supplies

Female Engagement Team Visits Afghan Students, Delivers School Supplies
Two Female Engagement Team Marines (wearing a teal green and red head scarf) sit with students July 28 at a school in Urayan village, Herat province, Afghanistan. Coalition forces dropped off school supplies to the school and spoke to the children about the importance of an education. The students were thankful for the supplies and for coalition forces working with Afghan Local Police to provide security in Zerekoh Valley where girls were not previously allowed to attend school. (U.S. Marine Corps courtesy photo)

Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center
Story by Sgt. Brian Kester

HERAT, Afghanistan — A school in Herat province recently received a much needed delivery of school supplies for its more than 30 female Afghan students during a Marine Corps Female Engagement Team visit.

The Marine FET, in a coordinated effort with a U.S. Civil Affairs and Special Forces team from the Zerekoh Valley, delivered more than just backpacks filled with paper, pens, pencils, erasers, and other various supplies to the 34 female students ranging in age from 7 to 14 — they delivered a ray of hope to the people living in Shindand district.

“The intent was to drop off school supplies along with teacher’s kits and for us to engage the female students,” said a Marine gunnery sergeant who took part in the event. “This is just a small portion of the mission of the team here, but a very important one. We work with the Civil Affairs team to make sure they are engaging every aspect of the community, and with the help of the FET, they are able to do just that.”

During the team’s visit, they also handed out teacher’s kits containing chalk, paper, pens and pencils. School officials said the provisions they received were the first supplies the school received this year.

“Being able to provide teachers and students with the necessary materials they need is important,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael O’Connor, a Coalition forces spokesman. “Especially in Afghanistan where the literacy rate for males and females age 15 and older is less than 30 percent.”

In addition to Afghanistan’s low literacy rate, roughly 43 percent for males and 12 percent for females, the culture also requires sexes to be segregated throughout the country, to include the school in Zerekoh Valley. Even though the school’s staff now allows girls to attend the school, they still require them to attend at different times.

This same rule of thumb applies to the way men and women socialize with one another.

Tradition forbids… read more here