-Higher education in Afghanistan is relatively new and has been linked to the political fluctuations in the country.
-Starting in 2001, post-Taliban investments in the country rejuvenated the higher education sector.
-Afghanistan went from 0 girls at Universities in 2oo1 to 110315 female students.
-Out of 18,430 university teachers 2,549 were female.
-As of June 2020, there were 172 higher education institutes in Afghanistan, of which 39 are public and 128 are private universities or higher education institutions. In 2020, 53% 422, 869 students were enrolled in private universities and institutes, while 46.7% were enrolled in n public institutions.
Current Status of higher education
Since August 15th last year:
-39 public universities were closed.
-Many professors have fled the country
-Private universities remained open but faced serious financial difficulties.
-The average number of students decreased.
– The average number of teachers decreased.
-International scholarship programs stopped their programs for Afghan students.
-Academic freedom and rights have been restricted for girls.
-The propagandist curriculum is replacing the formal and empirical system of education
-Ban on secondary schools mean no female university student in years to come.
-Private universities are on the verge of collapse due to the economic crisis while the space for girls significantly shrank in public universities.
-Gender Segregation in universities also restricted female students academic mobility within their own universities.
- There has been a significant reduction in the higher education budget:
- Development budget (100%)
- Recurrent budget (100%)
- Human resources: decrease in the number of administrative and management staff, male (3%) and female (11%)
What we have done about it
In February 2022, Network of Former Youth Delegates to the United Nations organized a high-level closed doors meeting with the UN Youth Envoy and other high level UN members supporting the humanitarian response and protection of youth in Afghanistan. The meeting was also attended by university representatives from Germany based Bard College (Berlin) and US based Bennington College (Bennington, Vermont). The purpose of the meeting was to create a platform where students share their stories, their hopes for a better future, and offer potential solutions on how to make education more accessible for young Afghans. The immediate outcome of this meeting was that University- Bennington College- agreed to enroll all the Afghan students that attended the meeting into Bennington’s classes for Spring 2022 term. The students have been benefiting from taking online classes and can also get official credits for their classes, which are transferable.
What the students recommended?
- More female teachers must be included in the educational system;
- University students who are voluntarily teaching secondary school students must be supported and encouraged to keep reinvesting in their societies and schools;
- Public call to Universities and Colleges to join in the conversation;
- Universities in Afghanistan must unite and approach the UN offices in Afghanistan for use of their offices by students as ad hoc learning centers.
- Lobby for a UN Youth envoy scholarship could be made.
- The establishment of educational centers (such as Lincoln learning centers which have been closed after the collapse) with internet and computer where students can participate in online education and extracurricular activities should be considered.
For the duration of the Spring 2022 term, 9 Afghan Students from different provinces have been granted online scholarships at Bennington College However, most students could not fully benefit from the courses offered due to the lack of stable internet connection and functional electronic devices. Providing assets and a stable internet connection to each selected individual tends to be high in costs and logistics. Therefore, establishing educational hotspots where students (girls) gather in a safe space with an internet connection and attend classes is the essence of this initiative. This investment can become one feasible method of mainstreaming quality education to youth who demonstrate the potential to excel in their respectable fields.
The short term:
- The first pilot center will provide short-term courses and resources will be acquired according to those duration requirements.
- The first pilot will only strive to provide fundamental educational courses extensive activities will not be considered to prevent early budget exhaustion
- Bennington College is committed to providing courses such as Human Rights law, Approaches to Afghanistan, Coding, etc for the first pilot center
- The first center will be established in Kabul. The process of establishing similar centers will initiate after the validation and benchmark fulfillment of the pilot center
- The first pilot center will only reach out and select 10 random female students for short-term courses
- Beneficiaries will be able to attain professional certifications and full-length bachelor’s degrees or equivalent
- Extracurricular activities will be considered for students to prepare for employment
In the long term, the centers are envisioned to encompass most of the provinces in Afghanistan and provide courses on various topics and disciplines
- Students graduate from full-length BA programs
- Students’ capacity raised to meet recruitment and employers’ expectations
- Students will engage with youth from around the world and contribute to youth programming and youth-led initiatives on a local, regional and global scale
Intended goals/ potential achievements
- E-Learning centers can contribute to the accessibility of high-quality education in each and every province
- Girls will be able to attain BA degrees and certified credits as well as capacity-building can be made possible for those deprived of such facilities
- Gender disparities in the educational system can be mitigated through such initiative
- International organizations willing to continue their projects will most likely rely on local employees under the presiding circumstances, and by providing an alternate means for girls to continue and complete their education, we can ensure their increased employability.
What support do we need?
1- A small budget to get the pilot e-learning center started.
2-Academic support from OSUN by providing online courses and programs to undergrad students in Afghanistan.
3- Volunteer students both on the ground and abroad to join forces and help us make this project a success.
“Educational crisis is an emergency and today more than ever before, it should be treated as one.”
Afghanistan came a long way since 2001 and it’s all due to the progress in educational sector, the lack of which increased insurgency in rural parts of the country. We do not have the luxury of waiting for the humanitarian, economic or political crisis to be resolved in order to see Afghan youth get back to their classes and access their basic human right; THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION.
A rising tide can lift all boats
The question is how many stories are we willing to rewrite?