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Nine Afghan Participants Complete First Training Course Organized by Heidelberg and the GTZ

Press release from the issuing company

May 19, 2005 -- The first nine participants have successfully completed the training course for printers organized by Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) and the Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ, Society for Technical Cooperation). The six-month training course is primarily intended for participants who have little or no knowledge of printing technology. Having completed the course, participants will be well prepared for working in one of the approximately 60 printshops in Afghanistan. The project, which was launched by Heidelberg in cooperation with the GTZ at drupa 2004 in Dusseldorf, is also playing a key role in rebuilding the Afghan print industry which is still largely recovering after the war. The training course focuses on press operation and the basics of prepress and postpress. Heidelberg provides trainers from Germany and Iran and also supplies the equipment and teaching materials. The GTZ pays a proportion of the costs, pays the trainees a salary and provides support in the management of the project. Kabul is now a member of Heidelberg's Print Media Academy network. The second training course for ten further trainees is already underway. From the fall, a women-only course focusing on prepress, graphics and design is planned. This is especially vital since women often have to provide for their entire family alone due to the high number of male victims during the war. The demand for print products in Afghanistan is high. The most popular products are textbooks and information/teaching materials for the various aid and development organizations active in the country. Last but not least, the Afghan government also has a large requirement for a wide range of print materials. However, up until now, many jobs were outsourced to printshops in the surrounding countries such as Iran and Pakistan due to the lack of expertise and insufficient awareness of quality within the country. "The Afghan print market requires skilled personnel and good quality machinery if the value-added chain for the production of print products is to be kept within the country. With this training project, Heidelberg and the GTZ have made a vital contribution in offering young people in Afghanistan the opportunity to improve the expertise of the domestic print media industry and keep investment within Afghanistan," said Dr. Walther Stählin, Head of the EMEA region at Heidelberg, at the ceremony celebrating the end of the first training course in Kabul. Heidelberg is the first manufacturer in the print media industry to offer products and solutions through its own local organization in Afghanistan. The 300 square meter Kabul training center is located in the grounds of Heidelberg's Afghanistan sales office, which was established in April 2003.