For Immediate Release
March 30, 2005
Mrs. Bush Highlights Women's Achievements in Afghanistan
Women's Teacher in Training Institute
Thank you for your warm welcome. It is, indeed, an extraordinary
privilege to be with you today to celebrate the incredible progress
that has been made by the people of Afghanistan over these past four
years. I have especially watched with great pride as courageous women
across your country have taken on leadership roles as teachers,
students, doctors, judges, business and community leaders, and
politicians. And no where is that more evident than on this University
campus. The United States Government is wholeheartedly committed to the
full participation of women in all aspects of Afghan society, not just
in Kabul, but in every province.
The National Women's Dormitory and
the Women's Teacher Training Institute will allow women to come from
every corner of the country and have a safe place to stay and study so
that they can return home and share one of life's greatest gifts with
their communities - the gift of an education.
I want to thank Mina
Sherzoy, the Head of the Afghan Business Women's Council, for
organizing the marketplace today which showcases some of the local
wares being produced by women entrepreneurs. Mina recently led a
delegation of 14 exceptional women entrepreneurs to the U.S. to
participate in a mini MBA program spearheaded by Barbara Barrett and
Thunderbird University - one of our nation's top international business
schools. One of these exceptional women, Hamira Nassary, was my guest
at President Bush's State of the Union address in the United States
I would also like to thank Dr. Ashraf Ghani, the President of
Kabul University for the opportunity to speak with you today. You are
doing such important work and we greatly appreciate your devotion to
the education of the people of Afghanistan.
It is said that big things
have small beginnings. Two years ago, the teacher training institute
was just a dream. In July of 2003, the US-Afghan Women's Council
visited one of my husband's top advisers, Karen Hughes, in her home
town of Austin, Texas. As Karen talked with them about the most
pressing needs facing the women of Afghanistan, the consensus from her
Afghan counterparts, including the Women's Minister, Habbiba Sarabi,
was a dire need for teachers in the remote and rural communities. Karen
was told that women hoping to attend the University did not have a
place to stay. The dormitories had historically only been for men.
Karen told me of these needs, and as a teacher and librarian myself, I
hoped that the United States Government could help build this
institute. Many of you here today have all played a critical role in
making this dream a reality. And from today's small beginnings we
expect the Institute will yield great things.
There is much more to this
place than the bricks and mortar you see around us. The ordinary
business that will take place here is, in fact, a symbol itself of the
extraordinary leap forward Afghan women have taken.
We are only a few
years removed from the rule of the terrorists, when women were denied
education and every basic human right. That tyranny has been replaced
by a young democracy, and the power of freedom is on display across
We must be mindful though, that democracy is more than
just elections. The survival of a free society ultimately depends on
the participation of all its citizens, both men and women. This is
possible if institutions like this exist to give women the basic tools
they need to contribute fully to society-and the most critical tool of
all is an education.
So the hard work of the Institute has begun.
Future teachers will come here for an innovative teacher training
course. The Afghan Literacy Initiative, an accelerated literacy, math,
and life skills curriculum for remote rural communities, where many
girls still do not have access to schools, should have over 2,000
pupils by the end of the year. These students will be trained in their
communities, as a result of a cascading system of training that begins
with the development of the master trainers, here with us today.
Another program is Learning for Life, a health-focused course that is
designed to help reduce maternal and child mortality. This program
addresses two critical needs for Afghan women: literacy and
healthcare. It will help people learn to read with materials that are
focused on health. This makes literacy directly relevant to something
women care about greatly-the well-being of their families. Over the
next two years, Learning for Life will reach 8,000 women, and of those,
5,500 young women across thirteen provinces will qualify to be trained
as health care workers and midwives.
The Teacher Training Institute is
public-private partnership and it will continue to require the
assistance of the Ministry of Education, numerous private donors,
non-governmental organizations, and of course, the U.S.-Afghan Women's
I would also like to extend a special thanks to two United
States corporations - Microsoft and Dell Computers - for their
extraordinary generosity on behalf of both the Teacher Training
Institute and the International Association of Women Judges. These
companies heard that the women of Afghanistan had a need for technology
assistance and they immediately provided computers, printers, and
teaching application software. This is just one more example of the
American people's commitment to the success of the people of
Today I am proud to announce the United States'
commitment to another initiative. The United States is supporting the
establishment of the American University of Afghanistan with a
multi-year commitment of more than 15 million dollars. This will
provide a modern facility with an international faculty to educate
The American University will aggressively reach out to
young Afghan women, to ensure they feature prominently in the school
and bring to it their invaluable perspective and determination. There
will be appropriate facilities and housing for women, and care will be
taken to be sure the faculty of this co-ed institution is inclusive of
women. The school will also offer scholarships to outstanding young
women who otherwise may not able to attend. Classes will be offered in
business, management, information technology, and other professional
areas of study.
Finally, I'm pleased to announce the development of
another education initiative- the International School of Afghanistan.
The school will provide Afghan children from kindergarten through high
school with a first-rate education through a classical curriculum
including mathematics, language, literature and grammar, the sciences,
social studies, culture and arts. We have dedicated $3.5 million for
the establishment of this school.
These three initiatives are each
significant. They are all part of an overall commitment by President
Bush to Afghan education projects totaling 80 million dollars.
are more than just development projects-they also signify the bond
between the American and Afghan people. They are symbols of our shared
hopes and dreams for the future. That dream is of a prosperous,
peaceful, and above all, a free Afghanistan, where both men and women
stand upright in equality.
As we have worked together these past
years, we have accomplished much and launched projects that will yield
great results in the coming years. We have also learned a great deal
about each other. We have come to know what is in each other's hearts,
and is so doing, come to understand that we are very much alike.
this time, I would like to invite Margaret Spellings, America's
Secretary of Education, Noor Mohammed Qarqeen Afghanistan's Minister of
Education, and Dr. Sayed Amir Shah Hassanyaar, Afghanistan's Minister
of Higher Education to join me on the stage to sign an agreement
between our two governments on these important initiatives. I would
also like to ask the American Ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay
Khalilzad, Paula Dobriansky, United States Undersecretary of State for
Global Affairs, and Jim Kunder, Assistant Administrator for the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID) to join us for the
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