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Sub-regional Conference of South, South-West and Central

Asia on Higher Education, 25-26 February, 2009, New Delhi

BY: professor Quadir Amiryar
Sr. Advisor, Ministry of Higher Education

Afghanistan: Report on Higher Education

1- Introduction

More than 30 years of civil war, forced displacement, immigration, millions of
Afghans taking refuge in the neighboring countries and living in the refugee
camps with two generations born and brought-up in the refugees comps, have
left its impact on almost every aspects of Afghan life including education and
higher education. In the process, many youth barely could afford to go to schools
or universities and a majority could not even complete their primary or
secondary education. Therefore the basic strategy of the government is to lay the
foundation for the promotion of literacy, expansion in primary and the
secondary education and then bring in the graduates of the high schools to the
colleges and universities. Our endeavor is to generate confidence in our
institutions of higher education so that the community should feel safe and
secured to reap the benefit from.
Education is vital to human development in any country and higher education is
essential to the national development in every aspect of social, economic, and
political life including productivity and the quality of products, tangible or
intangible. As part of the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS), the
Government of Afghanistan, in full cooperation and support from friendly
countries, International Organizations, and the NGOs has embarked-upon an
ambitious program in the Higher Education sector to provide easy, free and
affordable access to Higher Education for the interested citizens who are
qualified to benefit.

2-Overview of Higher Education system:

There are over six million children enrolled at the primary and secondary levels
in schools, whereas there are just 55,998 students enrolled in different

law. A majority of applicants for the establishment of private institutions have already received their licenses and are functioning. Afghan entrepreneur’s response to the government policies was very positive. . In addition it is understood that this agency’s functions and decisions shall be consistent with the Afghan cultural values. and provide additional access. Although the stage is set for these initiatives. Regarding access. policies and procedures in reference to the recruitment. proper management and governance. Medical. management and others. the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) is using every available options to meet the current need of the community and intends to reach-out as much as possible to every corner of the country to provide easy access to Higher Education to the community. promotion. starting from application to licensing and up to monitoring with only a few exception. Furthermore it is essential to the development of a proper system of higher education to establish a system or mechanism of quality assurance that eventually could serve as an independent accreditation agency at the national level. accreditation requirements and international standards. In order to bring a balance between the demand and supply. In the absence of an independent accreditation commission for the interim the Ministry of Higher Education(MoHE) has decided to form a committee consisted of group of seven experts to handle most aspects of private institutions. and structure of the fees to be paid by the students. not only new universities have been established but existing infrastructure in colleges and universities are being improved and expanded. Certainly with this degree of interest and pace in the development of private institutions of higher education. Polytechnic. There are 22 public and 15 private Institutions of Higher Education) in Afghanistan such as engineering. In fact in the past three years twelve private institutions of higher education have been established by the private citizens and interested parties from international community. We expect that this agency will be in charge of defining the parameters for an academic accreditation process. the Government is facing critical task of monitoring the quality of academic standards. This statistics shows how abysmally poor is the existing capacity in the country for the students seeking Higher Education. faculty development and other efforts such as quality improvement and entrance examinations.institutions of Higher Education in the country out of which there are only 9. Initiatives on the establishment and development of private institutions of higher education were strongly encouraged.926 female students. yet there are many gaps to plug in the Higher Education sector. availability of qualified instructors.

8. publications and translation of scientific works and articles. Establishment of the National Commission for the Entrance Examination. partnership between private & public institutions. introduction of credit system. implementation and promotion of Credit System. The next phase is to improve the quality of existing vocational education and the training facilities. As the result of these policies in the past two years we were able to establish academic affiliations with 11 foreign universities and several national institutions of higher education in Kabul. Curriculum reforms and new Educational Programs based on the national survey. as there is very limited number of technical institutions in the country. entrance exams. regulatory acts and etc. Preparation of text books. Development. new teaching facilities have been set-up in Vocational Education. 7. The Strategic Plan of the MoHE is basically focuses on easy access to Higher Education. reduction of gender disparities. governance. both in the public and private sector. both in public and private sectors corresponding to the communities need in those fields. Professional development programs for faculty. Key Strategy of MoHE includes: 1. 4. 3. 6. Similarly. Establishment of English Language Centre. 2. increase in enrollment and retention rates. reform in curriculum. Admission to the University or technical institutions like Engineering or Medical Science is through an Entrance examination as there are limited number of seats and . 5. An independent organ responsible for the Accreditation Nature of the system: The Higher Education system in Afghanistan revolves around Universities. Establishment of National Independent Commission for accreditation.In order to enhance the capacity to provide access for citizens the Ministry has encouraged promotion of cooperative programs relating to the partnership and technical exchanges between Afghan and international institutions. faculty development. Demand for higher education is about four times more than the available facilities.

Besides this. in fact are limited to a four.scholarships for the students. architecture. medicine and few other disciplines. is of critical importance in order to develop their latent potential. Most of these universities. Therefore. managing gender equity and design of policies concerning this issue is sensitive. The whole world realizes the fact that women play a very constructive role in society. female-oriented subjects such as Home Science. medicine. Disaster Management & Environmental Science and etc. Similarly several acts have been initiated by the Government. even in the Islamic countries. Child Psychology. law. have come forward and have taken to professions which were earlier not accessible for them. . teachers. Therefore. engineering. Science. Access of quality higher education to women in every field of humanities. who can substantially contribute to the development of economy. the courses that offered by these universities mostly are limited to traditional subjects such as humanities. Similarly. the Government strategy is now to mainstream women in the higher education sector by providing them with special incentives in the form of quotas. science. home economics. libraries and laboratories are inadequate. it is imperative to build good infrastructure facilities for the students as well as for the faculties in order to provide greater access to higher education for the youth.year college that offers BA and BS degrees except for the medical colleges. Many students seeking higher studies in other field do not find opportunity to pursue their career in the field of their choice. Gender issues: Afghanistan is an Islamic State. management. World has changed a lot where women. engineering. the quality and quantity of the exiting faculties. MoHE has further improved its policies and incentives by introducing culturally. In the meantime lack for transparency in hiring and employment discourage many Afghan youth to invest four years of their life in higher studies. This is one of the factors behind the slim representation of women in Higher Education. scholarships and additional seats in the Universities. Besides this. to improve the Vocational Education in the country so that we should be able to develop semi-skilled and skilled workforce. emphasis on vocational education to help women acquire new skills is very much part of the Government strategy. teaching and etc. infrastructure. As the result of this the number of available seats in the universities is limited to those subjects and courses that are offered. facilities. Also. Hospital Administration. there are very limited hostel/boarding facilities for girls in the universities except in Kabul.

The State must devise and implement effective programs for a balanced expansion all over Afghanistan. . entrance exams. Under the new strategy. seeking higher education in some field. In this way. curriculum reforms. introduction of transparency and accountability at various levels. the approach of the Ministry is to do away with the control and regulations and thereby to encourage private sector to deliver quality services and to fill the gaps that cannot be filled alone by the public sector. such as re-organization with streamlining of the university administration. that have already commenced. Also in Afghanistan. as the case is with the developed countries. public-private partnership. The university co-operation plans. the Multi- National Companies (MNCs) and NGOs can be invited to participate in various scholarship programs for the talented youth. Public-private partnership is the felt-need of this country in the Higher Education sector. quality assurance in the recruitment of faculties. institutional reforms and capacity-building in the Ministry and Universities. the universities in the country will develop the capacity to act independently and interact with the private sector. in order to improve teaching methodology and thereby improve the standards of education.3-Governance: The MoHE has initiated a series of measures to improve governance in the institutions of Higher Education. will allow universities in the country to interact and be supported by the recognized foreign universities. The New Government policy encourages substantial and effective role to private sector. provide compulsory education’. and introduction of new technologies. accreditation. introduction of the credit system. Article 43 provides that `Education is the right of all citizens. particularly in areas of infrastructure development. issuing degrees and diploma. Regulation Licensing Quality assurance: Policies & Legal Framework: Article 17 of the Constitution of Afghanistan provides that `adopt necessary measures for promotion of education in all levels’.

and develop religious subjects curricula for schools on the basis of existing Islamic sects in Afghanistan’. Under the Quality Assurance program the effort is to develop and set realistic standards in education. Article 46 provides that `Establishing and administering higher. Distance education. training and administration of academic research and publication. In the second phase of Strategy i. and other elements that could be a source of hope to the future generations and autonomy to universities. general and specialized educational institutions shall be the duty of the State. System reform and Management improvement by way of increasing institutional accountability and autonomy. The citizens of Afghanistan shall establish higher. literacy. national culture as well as academic principles. access/diversification. academic councils. building –up the capacity of the existing public institutions and improved financing. There will be a mix of foreign and local staff in the universities and the local staff will have . As a part of sector strategy. Article 45 provides that ` the State shall devise and implement a unified educational curriculum based on the tenets of the sacred religion of Islam. general and specialized educational as well as literacy institutions with permission of the State’. seminars and other measures to improve and enhance practical skills in science and technology to the benefit of the least fortunate members of the society in the region and beyond. for better governance. clean water. workshops. Initiatives for quality improvement In the long run the key to the quality enhancement in higher education. develop programs. or lack of it.e. in the long run is with the individual institutions. energy. the universities will operate independently with the MoHE role largely be confined to acting as a source of funds for the universities. there is tremendous focus on the Quality enhancement which include Faculty and Staff development. Curriculum review and reform. encouragement of private education. The University system will be expanded and students will have a much greater choice in the type of course they can undertake in the universities. administrators that produce quality. Facility development. such as improvement in food production.Article 44 provides that ` the State must also `devise effective programs for balancing and promoting education improving of education of the nomads and elimination of illiteracy in the country’. It is the faculty. from 2008 to 2011.

international affiliation for Afghan universities with the internationally known universities. 3. 4. Enrolment versus limitation of resources. skills. 2. it will also be an important part of the strategy to review university funding so that they should have greater autonomy. Turkey. to develop their potential. Introduction of credit system. most funds available to the MoHE for infrastructure will be used to refurbish the existing university campuses and carry-out the construction of buildings for libraries and laboratories in the existing universities. class. India. 2. creed or ethnicity. and 3. values and attitudes for a better future. development of the capacity of faculty members. ethnicity. Our Vision is to provide access of quality education for the citizens regardless of gender. socio-economic status or religious affiliations. In its efforts to improve the quality of Higher Education.opportunities to work in foreign universities as the co-operative system between the universities is expanded. and the United States. Emerging Issues and Challenges: 1. foreign exchange programs for students. Expansion in the quantity of educational services provided supply meets demand. creed. 5. There will be merit-based scholarships examinations for males and females for those who wish to study in foreign universities. Further. for example the Federal Republic of Germany. . Improvement in the quality and relevance of educational services. Security of the teaching and learning Environment. This also means providing access to relevant education in the form of remedial and vocational training to many Afghans who have been excluded from the educational system. 5. Issue of infrastructure. accreditation. As part of the Government strategy this visions can be achieved through the following actions: 1. build knowledge base. Funding for research in the universities will be increased using a system of research grants provided to the universities by the MoHE. To find qualified faculties. merit-based scholarship programs. Capacity-building and reforms. Equality and equity of access to education irrespective of gender.

Cultural influence which challenge e promotion of female education. Priority of the MoHE is to increase the enrolment. Public funding for HE and Fee policies: The Government policy encourages an important and effective role for private sector in the Higher education. Search for Funds/Grants. municipal. 9. 11.Reform in Higher Education Policies/ Institutions As a part of strategic planning. Need for enhancement of transparency in the system. 6-Financing of Higher education. Need for coherent and focused policies. introduction of new technologies. particularly in the areas of infrastructure development. 16. 14. 12. 10. Promotion of accountability. 7. The university co-operation plans that have already began will allow the institutions of higher education in the country to interact and be supported by the recognized foreign universities. Poor maintenance of records. public. Besides this. Reassess education priorities in light of national demands. Limited courses to offer. NGOs and voluntary contributors. 13. there is an agreement between the managers and educators in Afghanistan for the greater autonomy to the Institutions of Higher Education and to move to position Vocational Educational on a more sustainable foundation that can better contribute to emerging demands for this form of training. Public-private partnership is the best opportunity for both sectors to share their ideas and resources and eventually to the benefit of all. How to minimize Nepotism and Corruption. Poor capacity in the universities. to improve pedagogy and thereby improve the standard of education in the universities and technical institutions. 8. 15. 7. We need to integrate our policies regarding the resources and policies for capacity building in private. Also to encourage private sector to deliver quality services and to fill the gaps that cannot be provided by the public sector. the MoHE has embarked upon two phase to give boost to reforms with a view to achieving its Mission as enshrined in its 5-year strategic plan. Limited access due to poverty and geographical limitations. improve access and to ensure quality Higher Education. focused . 6. The first phase implemented in 2005 continued to 2007. international. Based on the new strategies of the Ministry we should gradually reduce government control and regulations of higher education.

Mission and Goals of the Government in the Higher Education sector. poor security environment etc. which will help in the socio- economic and political growth of the country. System reforms through increased autonomy. to promote cross-border education. Lack of educational infrastructure. The MoHE strategic paper is thus a road-map to achieve the Vision. It will not only attract the boys but also the girl students. Distance education and explore additional financing mechanism etc.   . exploration for Finance In the second phase of the Strategic Plan. Three decades of civil war has taken a heavy toll on the general life of Afghans. 8-Conclusion: Higher Education in Afghanistan is passing through an unusual phase of transition and. are some of the grey areas where require systematic interventions of the Government with the support from international community. which has been under the implementation phase since 2008 focuses on further stress on Quality enhancement in the areas of Faculty and Staff development. All such efforts of the Government are bound to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) as set-out for the Education sector and will bring the quality Higher Education in Afghanistan on the World Radar of Education. encouragement to private higher education. System reforms and Management improvement. Substantial population of youths has lost their studies midway. to encourage and improve the role of private education. in turn. Faculty and Staff development. poverty. Curriculum reforms. under-qualified faculties. Access to Education and Diversification. Facility development. therefore it requires significant attention from international communities. employment opportunities. deep psychological scar in the minds of people. Higher Education sector has particularly suffered the most. Curriculum review and reform. will considerably improve the status of women in the Afghan society and who can contribute significantly in the socio-economic-political development of the country. access to Higher Education. which would fulfill the long-cherished dreams of many Afghan students to study in India. Quality Assurance. increase the capacity of the existing infrastructure of public institutions. The recent establishment of South Asian University (SAU) in Delhi is one such great effort of the SAARC. Quality assurance.on Quality Enhancement which included Capacity-building of the institutions under the MoHE. poor enrolment of students in the universities. which. Facility development. lack of openness.