Good morning. In one week, boys and girls in Afghanistan will start a new school
year. For many girls, this will be the first time in their young lives that
they will have set foot in a classroom. Under the Taliban regime, educating
women was a criminal act. Under the new government of a liberated Afghanistan,
educating all children is a national priority. And America, along with its coalition
partners, is actively helping in that effort.
When Afghan children begin their classes they will find that the United States
has already sent more than 4 million textbooks to their country. The textbooks
are written in the Afghan languages of Pashto and Dari. And before the end of
the year we'll have sent almost 10 million of them to the children of Afghanistan.
These textbooks will teach tolerance and respect for human dignity, instead
of indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry. And they will be accompanied
by blackboards, teacher's kits and other school supplies.
America's children have been extremely generous in helping the children of Afghanistan.
Through America's Fund for Afghan Children, they have raised more than $4.5
million, much of which is used for school supplies like notebooks and pencils,
paper and crayons, soccer balls and jump ropes. The United States will also
be funding 20 teams of teacher trainers to conduct training sessions with thousands
of Afghan educators.
In helping the Afghan people rebuild their country we have placed a central
focus on education, and for a good reason. Education is the pathway to progress,
particularly for women. Educated women tend to be healthier than those who are
not well-educated. And the same is true of their families. Babies born to educated
women are more likely to be immunized, better nourished, and survive their first
year of life.
Educated women encourage their children to be educated, as well. And nations
whose women are educated are more competitive, more prosperous and more advanced
than nations where the education of women is forbidden or ignored.
We still have a lot of work to do in Afghanistan. The brave men and women of
the American military continue to fight al Qaeda forces that are trying to regroup
and would like nothing more than to strike America again. And even as we fight
terror, American compassion is providing an alternative to bitterness, resentment
The United States has helped Afghanistan avert mass starvation. We're repairing
its roads and bridges. We're rebuilding its health clinics and schools. And
in one week, with textbooks in hand, the young girls of Afghanistan will begin
school. This will be a remarkable moment in the history of Afghanistan, and
a proud moment for the people of America.