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Afghanistan: High School Student Discovers Math Formula

If you are not used to reading success stories about education in Afghanistan, this one is for a change. On 30 June, 2012 the Center of Science in Kabul announced that Khalilullah Yaqubi, a high school student from Ghazni province, had independently discovered a mathematical formula that can be used to solve ‘second-degree quadratic equations with one unknown'. Khalilullah is an eleventh-grade student at the Al-Beruni High School in Nawabad, on the outskirts of the city of Ghazni.

Speaking about the formula, Khalilullah says:

I have not seen this formula before in any book. Neither I have used any source, nor cheated from Internet. This is all my efforts. Through this formula we can solve the problems of degree of equations (sic).

Some Twitter users have welcomed the news as an indication of improvements in the Afghan education sector. Mulex, for example, has tweeted:

Wow! Amazing news from Afghanistan. Sign of progress in their education system.

Another Twitter user, Jasur Ashurov (‘A settled nomad from Central Asia'), wrote:

You don't always get positive news from #Afghanistan. This why I've been so happy to read this.

Rephrasing a Russian scientist and poet, he added [ru]:

…и может собственных Ньютонов и быстрых разумом Платонов земля афганская рожать…

…the Afghan land can give birth to its own Newtons and smart Platos…

The student's success particularly stands out against the background of the difficult situation confronting the school sector in Ghazni province. Members and sympathizers of the Taliban had closed many schools in the province. Recently, however, around 400 residents of one of the province's districts turned against the fundamentalist group and succeeded in reopening 81 out of the 83 schools in the area.

Overall, there have been improvements in Afghanistan's education sector since the ousting of the Taliban in 2001. Some 5,000 schools have been built (pdf) across the country since 2003. Yet, many of these schools still lack modern teaching facilities and face a shortage of qualified teachers. Besides, many schools for girls have recently been attacked by fundamentalists who oppose education for females in the country.

On the Outlook Afghanistan, Dilawar Sherzai describes the education system in Afghanistan as follows:

Our country Afghanistan is one of the countries where proper attention has not been paid to education sector. One of the basic reasons has been the continuous instability overwhelming the society. The wars and conflicts – national, regional and international – that have been using Afghan land as their theater have made the development in social and educational fields suffocate to a large extent. Starting from Soviet invasion in 1979, one can count myriads of tussles and disturbances hampering the establishment of satisfactory education system. The problems, more basic in nature, have been the focal point of people's concentration rather than the education system.

Despite all these difficulties, many Afghans succeed in becoming educated, sometimes even self-educated. In December 2011, another talented resident of Ghazni, without any special training or tools, flew an aircraft he had built from bits of rickshaw and a secondhand Toyota car in his garden.

Alexander Sodiqov has contributed to this post.

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