Murad Khane Primary School was founded by Turquoise Mountain in 2007 as part of a broader urban regeneration project in a part of Kabul’s old city called Murad Khane. The area had been deprived of basic services for decades, houses were collapsing, and there were alarmingly low levels of educational attainment and healthcare among residents.
Turquoise Mountain started by establishing a literacy class in one of the houses that it had repaired. Literacy courses were originally held for thirty local children but later expanded to include local women. The courses were so popular that the classes were registered with the Ministry of Education as the Murad Khane Public School, which was officially opened on June 22nd 2008. The school has grown to include 122 formally registered pupils between the ages of four and fourteen and up to eighty local children in supplementary classes. Local men have cleared a rubbish dump next to the school, which has now been transformed into a playground, with the help of the children’s own designs. A school library has been established.
The school currently comprises three grades and a nursery. There are plans to develop the school by a grade a year for the next three years to meet the Ministry of Education standard of six grades. Average class sizes number thirty, compared to the national average of fifty-eight pupils. The school year extends from early March to November, with special holiday classes laid on for children during the winter months.
Murad Khane Kitchen Gardening Project
The Kitchen Gardening Project began behind schedule due to a number of complications which will be outlined below. As a result only the first phase of this project was completed in 2014. Every Saturday over the course of five months eight women from the old city of Kabul were given weekly gardening training on two allotments. On each allotment four separate plots were planted, each containing a different type of vegetable. Learning from a local gardening expert, the women were taught how to plant, water, feed, weed and care of a range of different vegetables. All the women gained the knowledge required to set up their gardens in their own homes.
The training was received extremely positively, and many women have expressed their gratitude for the opportunities the kitchen gardening project presented them, noting that is has given them a focus and source of pride beyond their daily routine within the house.
In the spring of 2015 they hope to carry out the second phase of the project. The remaining $1000 will be used to:
• Train a further 8-12 women from Murad Khane.
• Purchase gardening tools for the initial 8 trainees and construct gardening plots in
each of their houses.
• Plant more trees in the neighbourhood.