04 Aug. 2008

PR# 2008-361

ISAF school develops skills among Afghan youth

Students at the ISAF Trade Training School pose for a picture.

KABUL, Afghanistan - The potential for Afghans to take control of their future is growing stronger thanks to ISAF’s basic trade training courses.

Four soldiers with the Australian Reconstruction Task Force work directly with the citizens in Uruzgan province in developing the skill base of the population through trade training courses.

Every 28 days, 20 Afghan men graduate from the school at the Dutch-Australian base Kamp Holland at Tarin Kowt. The graduates leave having learnt basic skills in carpentry, plumbing and allied trades. With a building boom in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban regime, Soldier Peter Monkley, 17th Construction Squadron, said, “The skills taught by the Australians are enough to ensure the Afghans get a job.”

Australian Sapper Brett Corrigan, an instructor at the ISAF Trade Training School, gives young Afghans an opportunity to learn a trade that can transform their future. At times, graduates of the school receive job offers before they complete their training in carpentry, plumbing and allied trades.

“It’s about giving the students a future,” he said. “The average age of people doing the course is 14 to 15, and some of them are the breadwinners for their families. If we can teach them some basic skills, they’ll be more likely to get a job and take an active part in rebuilding their country.”

While at the school, the students are paid the local wage. They get to keep most of the things they make, with some furniture items being donated to local schools or other institutions. Upon completion of the course, students receive their own basic tool kit, thanks to assistance from Australian Aid. They then have the opportunity to return for more advanced courses.

Close to 500 young Afghans have graduated from the school, which was established by the first Reconstruction Task Force two years ago.

Monkley said the demand for the course now outstrips the places available.

“There was one kid who walked from Kabul, hitching rides for over two days, to get on the course,” he said. “During last year’s poppy harvest, they couldn’t get enough students to run the course, but this year we’ve been doing courses back-to-back. The word is out that we’re offering something of value, and it’s very pleasing to see that kids from the local population are now prepared to improve their own skill levels. Hopefully this will lead to less reliance on labour from other countries.”

The four Australian Army soldiers — all qualified tradesmen — conduct the course with the help of seven local instructors.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/