Lessons in na­tion build­ing: empty schools

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - — The (Sun­bury) Daily Item

Doc­u­ment­ing yet an­other dis­turb­ing short­com­ing of the re­build­ing ef­forts that Amer­ica has com­bined with its war on ter­ror, a new gov­ern­ment re­port says that af­ter pour­ing $868 mil­lion over the last 15 years into Afghanistan’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, there’s am­ple ba­sis to ques­tion Afghan of­fi­cials’ stu­dent num­bers.

Au­di­tors from the Of­fice of the Spe­cial In­spec­tor Gen­eral for Afghanistan Re­con­struc­tion vis­ited 25 schools in Herat prov­ince. Afghan of­fi­cials claimed those schools’ av­er­age en­roll­ment was 2,639 stu­dents. The au­di­tors ob­served an av­er­age of just 561, or 23 per­cent of what Afghan of­fi­cials claimed, ac­cord­ing to NBC News.

The Afghan gov­ern­ment funds Afghan schools, but with money do­nated by other na­tions — and with the United States as the big­gest donor, us­ing U.S. tax­payer dol­lars. The U.S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment, which has claimed Afghan en­roll­ment sup­pos­edly ris­ing more than eight­fold since 2002 as ev­i­dence of progress, says so few site vis­its aren’t suf­fi­cient to sub­stan­ti­ate the sus­pi­cions raised by the au­di­tors.

Add as well that au­di­tors found many of those 25 schools crum­bling, lack­ing even re­li­able elec­tric­ity and clean wa­ter, and it’s hard to not think that the same sort of cor­rup­tion that has be­dev­iled U.S. na­tion-build­ing in Afghanistan, gen­er­ally, be­dev­ils its schools, too.

And if that’s the case, the real ques­tion is why Amer­ica con­tin­ues to spend so much of Amer­i­cans’ money there, to so lit­tle pos­i­tive ef­fect.

Last week, a 34-year-old Mon­tour County man was found dead with a hy­po­der­mic nee­dle still in his arm and oth­ers found at the scene. Ac­cord­ing to county coro­ner as­so­ci­a­tion data, nearly 10 peo­ple a day over­dosed in Penn­syl­va­nia in 2015, and there are no in­di­ca­tions it’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent in 2016.

Also last week, 25-yearold Ge­orge Bot­ticher waived a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing re­gard­ing his al­leged role in the over­dose death of a Sny­der County man this sum­mer. That means the felony charge of drug de­liv­ery re­sult­ing in death will head to trial. Bot­ticher is ac­cused of pro­vid­ing heroin to John-Michael Ar­curi, who was found dead from an over­dose in his home in July. The case is sim­i­lar to one in Columbia County, in which a 30-year-old Blooms­burg man is ac­cused of pro­vid­ing heroin to a Danville man who died.

As we’ve said be­fore, these cases are dif­fi­cult to pros­e­cute, sim­ply be­cause the di­rect con­nec­tion be­tween sup­plier and user can be dif­fi­cult to prove. Ev­i­dence is also tough to come by, but in the Columbia County case, po­lice were able to link the dealer to the Danville man through cell phone records.

That’s not al­ways the case, how­ever.

“There tend to be some chal­lenges in these types of cases,” Mon­tour County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Angie Mat­tis said. “I’ve al­ready seen cases where the scene has been cleaned up be­fore the coro­ner gets there. As you might imag­ine, friends and some associates of some of these in­di­vid­u­als don’t tend to talk be­cause they tend to be users them­selves.” Ad­di­tion­ally, Mat­tis said the stigma that comes with drug abuse also keeps po­ten­tial wit­nesses quiet. But when will it be enough? These two lo­cal cases of­fer a pos­si­ble game-changer in this bat­tle. More charges — and con­vic­tions — could lead to a pub­lic shift, elim­i­nat­ing more po­ten­tial bar­ri­ers to slow­ing this out-of-con­trol epi­demic.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.