FEATURE STORY May 21, 2018

Better Teaching Transforms Afghanistan’s Public Universities

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The Higher Education Development Project aims to equip 150 lecturers in public universities with the skills and techniques to become master trainers within their respective universities by 2020, who will in turn train other lecturers.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • While universities in Afghanistan have expanded over the last decade, teaching methods have not improved at the same pace, slowing student progress.
  • To improve student learning, a program is helping instructors modernize teaching methods through a “train the trainer” program that promotes student participation, group activities, and critical thinking skills.
  • The program is supported by the Higher Education Development Program (HEDP), which is designed to increase access to higher education and improve its quality and relevance. It is funded by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

KABUL CITY – . However, while the physical infrastructure has been in place, many lecturers have continued to follow traditional teaching methods. As a result, rote teaching tended to take precedence over critical and analytical thinking, limiting student progress.

“I have been a lecturer for 10 years now,” says Chaman Ali Hekmat, lecturer of English literature at Bamyan University. “Our traditional teaching method and lectures were teacher centered with us dictating lessons to students. We had less class activities and student learning rates were low.”

under the Higher Education Development Project (HEDP) aimed at mainstreaming modern teaching methods. Universities are required to nominate one or more faculty members to be trained in student-centered teaching and learning in workshops conducted by highly qualified and well-known overseas institutions. The nominated faculty members are then vetted by the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), which selects the candidates to be trained as master trainers.

, as well as improve its quality and relevance. It has been implemented by MoHE since September 2015, with funding support by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).


"Higher education is critical in every country, especially in Afghanistan. We would like to have master trainers in public universities to modernize and standardize our teaching system."
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Mohammad Ehsan Habibi
Senior Teaching and Learning Manager, HEDP

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With support provided by the Higher Education Development Project, 24 master trainers from various Afghan public universities have been trained out of a target of 150 by 2020.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


Positive Impact in Classrooms

Hekmat and his colleagues received an intensive 12-day Outcome Based Education (OBE) and Student Centered Learning (SCL) training at the University of Technology in Malaysia in 2016. He says that the training coupled with in-country peer engagements enabled by HEDP have dramatically changed his attitude toward teaching and learning.

,” says Hekmat. “These workshops are a good start for modernizing and standardizing the higher education system in Afghanistan. With the new techniques and methods we learned, we prepare our students not just based on market demands but we [also] help them to become self-confident and independent.”

Nasratullah Naseri, 24, a student at the English literature department, Bamyan University says . “When I was a freshman in university, our lecturers used to come to class and talk for hours. The class was boring,” he says. “. They give us the opportunity to talk and take part in class activities. .”

The OBE and SCL training is improving student-teacher interactions in the classroom as well. “In these systems, the lecturer is not the only source of information for students,” says Numanuddin Nayebkhail, another master trainer and lecturer in the Faculty of Pharmacy at Kabul University. “We encourage students to research on the subjects and fully express their ideas in the class.”

Students at the Faculty of Pharmacy, Kabul University, such as freshman Ghazal Jouyan, 18, appreciate the new interactive methods of teaching,,” she says. “Students are divided into groups and they take part in class activities. I think it is the best method.”

A top student in his day, Nayebkhail recalls that the only source of information was his lecturer. “I did not even know a book’s name in my field—pharmacy,” he remarks as he prepares for his next class.

Spozhmay Oriya, another master trainer and lecturer in the Psychology and Educational Sciences Faculty at Kabul University, says the OBE and SCL training has taught her to share information regarding the objectives, expected results, and important points of a subject before at the start of a session with her students. “,” she says. “I regularly check their assignments and give them feedback. They take part in group activities and I feel they are much more responsible.” 


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In the last decade, 36 public universities have been set up or re-established in Afghanistan. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Modernize Higher Education System

Mohammad Taqi, 22, a student at the English literature department in Bamyan University, who has benefited from the new teaching methods, notes the challenges during the transition period before all the lecturers have undergone training. “All our lecturers are great in their fields, but the problem is that those who have received the OBE-SCL training, like Mr. Hekmat, are teaching us very well and we learn a lot through different class activities, while those who have not received the training still have challenges in conveying the lessons.”

The situation is set to change as the 24 master trainers have conducted OBE and SCL workshops and trained more than 260 other lecturers on the same teaching skills. within their respective universities by 2020, who will in turn train other lecturers.

. We would like to have master trainers in public universities all over Afghanistan to modernize and standardize our teaching system,” says Mohammad Ehsan Habibi, Senior Teaching and Learning Manager for HEDP. “.”



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