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Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Wednesday, 29 September 2010 16:57 UK

School Reporters in Afghanistan take to the streets

Young journalists in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, who go to school, interview children who do not, to find out why
School Reporters take to the streets in Mazar-i-Sharif

During 30 years of war and instability in their country, thousands of Afghan children have missed out on going to school.

Many have become parents who are living in poverty and now need to send their own children out to work or on to the streets to beg, rather than giving them an education.

So what would happen if these street children came face-to-face with their more affluent counterparts, who they see heading off to school every day?

This was one of the questions investigated by Firuz Rahimi of the BBC Uzbek Service. He went to the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif to speak to School Reporters, who, under the guidance of BBC producers, worked as editors, reporters and presenters.

Their reports were aired on 19 August 2010 on the World Service's Outlook programme (listen to the report at 16.44).

Street life

One of the topics the young journalists wanted to tackle was the lives of the numerous street kids in the city - why weren't they at school?

One young reporter, Nasiba, 14, went to the famous Blue Shrine in the city to investigate.

"I'm in the western part of the shrine. I can see 10 small kids here," she reported, setting the scene for the listener. "Some are shoeshine boys, some are begging, some are selling water. One has got some scales and people are paying to weigh themselves."

As I walk along the canal, I can see every kind of rubbish, mixed with sewage, and attracting a lot of flies. I find it really disgusting

Lide, School Reporter, Mazar-i-Sharif

One 10-year-old boy, who no longer goes to school, told her: "My dad is away, so we need the money. When he comes back, maybe I'll be able to."

She spotted another boy, aged 12, running around in the heat looking for buyers for his bracelets. He told her that he would prefer to go to school to study to be a doctor or engineer, but added that, for him, it just wasn't possible.

Reflecting on the gulf between the two worlds - those that go to school and those that don't - Nasiba said: "When I talked to them, I wished I could help them and make it possible for them to get an education. I wish they could have the same advantages as us, and I wish their parents could help them."

'Why so dirty?'

Another group of School Reporters, Farid and Lide, chose the topic of rubbish, and went to investigate the streets of Mazar.

Opening her audio report, Lide said: "I'm in the city centre. I'm very near the mosque, which is a holy place, so you'd expect this area at least to be kept clean. But I'm standing by a small canal, which is filthy.

"People have been throwing rubbish into it, and I can see juice cans, rotting food, plastic bags, old drinks bottles. It's dirty and smelly. There are a lot of children round here, and it must be a health hazard for them. Everyone wants it cleaned up, including me.

"As I walk along the canal, I can see every kind of rubbish, mixed with sewage, and attracting a lot of flies. I find it really disgusting."

School Reporters in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan
School Reporters record their radio packages at the BBC

Her co-presenter, Farid, added: "The city should take more care. They do try, but you can see that where they've cleared rubbish out of the canal, they've just left it by the side. And that's attracting flies. Along the canal there are people selling snacks and fruit, so there's a health risk. And this is the centre of the city. Imagine how much worse the rest of the city is."

Noticing that people buying hard-boiled eggs were throwing the shells on the ground, Farid approached the seller, who replied: "A lot of people throw their shells on the ground. They don't care. It's the same round the ice-cream seller, and the cucumber seller. Even the authorities don't care.

"It's the responsibility of ordinary people as well. When they buy something to eat, they should put their rubbish in a bin. But instead they just throw it away."

Keen to hear the views of someone who was pro-active about keeping the streets keen, the young journalists spoke to café owner Nur Mohammad, whose fast-food outlet looked to be cleaner than other places they'd seen.

"First thing in the morning, I get my staff to clean up the area round the café and pick up all the rubbish," he explained, adding: "There are plenty of dustbins here, but people don't care. No-one uses them."

Read more on the BBC's Uzbek website.



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