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Posted 4/10/2012

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By Mark Ray
Afghanistan Engineer District-South

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - A host of senior Afghan and U.S. dignitaries met at Herat University March 26 to formally open a teacher training facility, built with U.S. Agency for International Development funding by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan Engineer District-South.

U.S. Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham, Herat Provincial Governor Dr. Daud Saba and Acting Director of USAID in Afghanistan Dr. Jeffrey Ashley spoke at the ceremony. South District Commander Air Force Col. Ben Wham represented USACE.

The $900,000 facility provides 18 classrooms, four laboratories and archive and library capacity to support graduate education training and to prepare future teachers.

"This ceremony takes place at an auspicious time - the beginning of spring, and Nowruz, the Afghan New Year," said Cunningham in his remarks. "It is a time of rebirth and growth."

The facility will train the teachers who will help Afghanistan in its rebirth and growth, Cunningham said. "I thank the Afghan workers who built this facility - they have created a legacy, where students will hone their skills for the renewal of Afghanistan."

Herat Provincial Governor Saba opened his remarks by quoting an Afghan proverb: "As goes the spring, so goes the year," he said, speaking through an interpreter. "Today is an auspicious day for the year to come - bright and sunny. More important, by opening this facility, we are opening the doors of education for future generations."

"The United States has supported education in Herat, with this building and with many other projects over the years," Saba said. "I appreciate and thank the United States for their support in this hard time - on behalf of the people of Herat, thanks to the Corps of Engineers, USAID and the U.S. Embassy.

"I would also like to thank the contractor, and the many Afghan workers and engineers, for their hard, high-quality work," Saba said in closing, "They have done their duty for the people of Afghanistan."

"USAID and the Corps of Engineers are immensely proud of this facility," said Ashley, acting director for USAID in Afghanistan. "It supports the long-term strategic plan to improve education in Afghanistan, essential for the country."