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Afghan Scout Association

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Da Afğānistān Sarandoy Tolanah
Da Afğānistān Sarandoy Tolanah
Afghan Scout Association
Country Afghanistan
Founded 1931
Membership 20,000 (estimate)

Scouting portal

File:--AfghanistangirlScouts.jpg
Membership badge of Afghan Girl Scouts

Scouting in Afghanistan was officially founded in 1931 by a royal decree. The site of Baden-Powell's second posting in 1880, Afghanistan was a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement from 1932 until the Afghan government dissolved the Scout Association in 1947. Scouting was reestablished in 1956, named Da Afğānistān Zaranduy Tolanah (DAZT) and was readmitted to the World Scout Conference on June 1, 1964, having a membership of over 2,000 Scouts, both boys and girls and adult leaders. The communist government banned the Afghan Scout Association in 1978, at that date with 11,212 members. By 1981, DAZT was no longer recognized by the 28th World Scout Conference, because of domestic disturbances that deprived Afghanistan of the democratic environment necessary for Scouting to continue.

Troop 1 membership badge

Until the Soviet invasion, there were American Boy Scouts in Kabul, serving in Boy Scout Troop 1, linked to the Direct Service branch of the Boy Scouts of America, which supports units around the world.

Revival of Scouting in Afghanistan

Several times in the 1990s, and again in 2002, political and social changes in Afghanistan opened opportunities for the rebirth of Scouting in Afghanistan. In early 2002, the Interim Administration of Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested embassies of selected countries to assist in reviving Scouting in Afghanistan, and groups began to emerge, led by adults who had been involved with the program prior to 1978.

The fledgling group is Da Afğānistān Sarandoy Tolanah, the Afghan Scout Association, which started as of February 2004 and is working toward WOSM recognition. The national office in Kabul, which operates out of two rooms in the Ministry of Education building, estimates there are about 20,000 Scouts across Afghanistan. All groups are sponsored by the Ministry of Education.

Adult Scout leaders for all sections are usually schoolteachers, but others volunteers may join, subject to the approval of the Ministry of Education. All Scouts work in the schools, acting as hall monitors, crossing guards and honor guard for school visitors. Some groups are beginning to work outside the school as well, making public announcements in the bazaar, cleaning mosques, helping firefighters, performing first aid and helping injured people get to hospital. The Afghan Scout program is focused more on civic duty rather than as a pastime.

Currently the Afghan Scout Association is for boys and girls, men and women, and offers Cubs (ages 8 to 12), Scouts (ages 12 to 18) and Rovers (ages 19 to 25). Cubs, Scouts and Rovers all wear their uniforms to school or university, as that is where they perform most of their duties.

The period of war left Afghanistan with a broken communication system, so word has been slow to spread between Scout groups. There are very few computers, almost no Internet access and no countrywide telephone system. Scouts have to be counted during visits to the regions. New ideas from Kabul are difficult to spread. As a result, each group designs its own uniform and badges. Scouts have to make their own uniforms, buying the tan-colored material from the bazaar and then having it tailor made into a shirt and pants (boys), or long shirt and baggy pants (girls).

Boys also must tailor make a pillbox hat from the same tan material. Girls wear either the pillbox hat or a chador. A leather Scout belt with a brass belt buckle completes the uniform. The total cost for these items is about 500 Afghanis, or ten dollars; a huge sum when one considers the monthly salary for a teacher in Afghanistan is about 30 dollars. Scouts usually perform odd jobs to earn the money a few Afghanis at a time and often a Scout group will pool its money to buy a uniform for a new member.

Although Afghanistan does have a Guiding organization (possibly coeducational, or in a separated body), work towards World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts membership recognition remains unclear.

The Scout Motto is Tayar Osay in Pashto, translating as Be Prepared.

See also

References

  • Scouting 'Round the World, World Scout Bureau, Geneva, Switzerland, 1977
  • more recent details distilled from an article by Lieutenant Colonel David Ross, UNAMA Military Liaison Officer, Kunduz, Afghanistan
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