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Saturday, 16 March, 2002, 18:58 GMT
Bush sends books to Afghanistan
Afghan girls tend farm animals
The education of girls was forbidden under the Taleban
The United States is sending 10 million school textbooks and some teacher trainers to Afghanistan.

In his weekly radio address, President George W Bush said education was the pathway to progress for the next generation of Afghans, especially women.

Even as we fight terror, American compassion is providing an alternative to bitterness, resentment and hatred

George W Bush

A BBC correspondent says there is a political message to go with the gift.

Mr Bush said the textbooks would teach tolerance and respect for human rights, instead of indoctrinating students with what he called fanaticism and bigotry.

He said that when Afghan children began their new school term next week, they would find that the US had already sent more than four million textbooks to their country.

Path to progress

"Before the end of the year we will have sent almost 10 million of them to the children of Afghanistan," he said.

The textbooks are written in the Afghan languages of Pashto and Dari.

"Education is the pathway to progress, particularly for women," said the president.

George W Bush
President Bush says education will help end racial hatred
"Educated women tend to be healthier than those who are not well-educated. And the same is true of their families."

He added: "Babies born to educated women are more likely to be immunised, better nourished, and survive their first year of life.

"Nations where women are educated are more competitive, more prosperous and more advanced than nations where the education of women is forbidden or ignored."

Previous efforts

The United States will also pay for 20 teams of teacher trainers to work with Afghan educators.

Mr Bush said the US still had work to do in Afghanistan, where its forces are fighting alongside Afghan troops to drive out al-Qaeda militants.

But he added: "Even as we fight terror, American compassion is providing an alternative to bitterness, resentment and hatred."

Boys cut up toilet rolls
Child labour is common in Afghanistan
Previous US aid to Afghanistan has not always been a success.

During the air strikes against Taleban targets last October, US planes dropped hundreds of tonnes of food parcels into areas where local people faced starvation.

But aid agencies asked them to stop because the bright yellow parcels were the same colour as unexploded cluster bomblets - and some Afghans had been maimed and killed picking them up.

Some of the parcels also ended up in mine fields.

It was also alleged that a lot of the food was falling into the hands of the Taleban.

On a more positive note, in January the US pledged almost $300m to Afghanistan in the coming year, on top of $400m in humanitarian assistance committed by President Bush last autumn.

See also:

06 Feb 02 | South Asia
Afghan women embrace new prospects
28 Jan 02 | South Asia
Bush pledges Afghan aid boost
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