Estonia to Continue Supporting Afghanistan's Education System
The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will allocate 500,000 euros to Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), half of which will go towards development of the local education system.
Urmas Paet, the minister of foreign affairs, said that Afghanistan is one of Estonian's priorities in development aid. "We specifically wish to support the development of Afghanistan’s education system," he said. "In addition to supporting the academic staff from the University of Kabul who are currently working toward a PhD at Tallinn University, we wish to channel half of the funds allocated to ARTF to education."
Paet emphasized that it is of utmost importance not just to invest in the military but also in the development of a civil society, in order to help Afghanistan become a secure self-sufficient country, one no longer dependent on foreign donors. He added: "For this to happen we must pay increasing attention to strengthening the way Afghanistan's government agencies function."
During a 2010 conference in Kabul, Estonia and other international donors agreed to direct at least 50 percent of the financial aid through Afghanistan’s central government. According to Paet, making the funds available though ARTF is the best way to honor this agreement, for this way Estonia can be sure that the money is spent on the intended purpose.
ARTF is administered by the World Bank and is the largest financing mechanism for Afghanistan’s budget and priority national investment projects. It has funded thousands of new classrooms and trained over 150,000 teachers, helped Afghanistan Ministry of Education with the development of curricula, study materials and quality assurance principles. ARTF has also supported the reconstruction of infrastructure in the rural areas and emphasized the need to renovate the country's energy supply system.