According to my buddy, Professor Salim Yaqub, Afghanistan was in desperate shape in the mid 1990s in the wake of the 15 year war with the Soviets. Famine, civil war, and undetonated landmines plagued the country. War had become a way of life, even for children.
I’m a tutor these days and I have been teaching kids word problems: “Ben was going 15 mph for 3 hours. How far did Ben go?” Pretty boring. But here is what an Afghanistan mathematics textbook for 4th graders said in the 1980s. You have to admit, it’s quite practical.
1) The Mujahideen are on the path of God in an attack on a convoy of the interventionist Russians and Communists. After most of the enemy are killed, 500 boxes of shells are siezed as booty. If in every box there are 820 shells, how many shells are siezed as booty.
2) The speed of a Kalashinikov bullet is 500 meters per second. If one Russian is at a distance of 3,200 meters from a Mujahid, and the Mujahid aims at the Russian’s forehead, calculate how long it will take for the bullet to hit the Russians forehead.
This primer was in use in parts of the country until 2000.
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