Access to quality education: the mission of an Afghan planner

15 February 2018


Siddiq Majidi during the ATP programme in Paris, February 2018.

Looking back on his education in Afghanistan, Siddiq Majidi knows it was not the common experience. 

“It was very intensive and students always performed well on the national exams,” says Majidi, who is now 25. His school was part of a private-public partnership and benefitted from extra resources.

“But it was not very sustainable for the whole of a country,” Majidi says. “Only a very limited number of people have access to this kind of education.”

Now in the early years of his career in the Afghan Ministry of Education, Majidi is devoting his professional life to improving access to quality education for today’s children and youth.

One of the reasons I wanted to work in education is to increase access and enhance the overall educational quality nationwide. I am able to work closely with the government officials, development partners and Ministry of Education staff at the center and provincial level. We can have a real influence and get the desired outcomes,” he says.

Based in Kabul, Majidi works in the planning department. In addition to his primary tasks, he is also playing a central role in supporting the implementation of the country’s new education sector plan, which is guiding policy and programming over the next five years. He is the coordinator and focal point for the working group on equitable access to education, one of three main pillars of Afghanistan’s new education plan along with quality and relevance and efficient and transparent management.

Majidi says he is optimistic about the plan’s implementation, especially with the different working groups and strong communication. He is also receiving training from IIEP-UNESCO on themes that have a direct link to what is happening on the ground back home.

In April 2017, Majidi first came to IIEP in Paris, France, for the two-week intensive course Education Sector Programmes and Projects, which is part of the Specialized Courses Programme (SCP).

“The course content we discussed in Paris – such as how to prepare a project and logical frameworks and assess indicators – were the same areas that we were working on in our country,” Majidi says.

While in the SCP programme, Majidi learned about a longer more in-depth programme that IIEP offers: the Advanced Training Programme in educational planning and management. While the SCP course honed his skills in one precise area, the ATP would give him an opportunity to enhance his overall theoretical and practical knowledge in planning.

Before returning to IIEP in January – after a three-month online phase completed in Kabul – Majidi met with his director and colleagues in the Ministry. They were to select a current challenge in Afghanistan’s education system that Majidi could focus on while at IIEP. The issue was clear: the country’s 3.5 million out-of-school children.

“We need alternative pathways for education and need to look at all of the ways to enroll girls and boys in rural and urban areas everywhere,” Majidi says.

For the next several months, Majidi will be exploring some of the strategies and solutions planning can contribute to opening access to education. And upon returning to Kabul, Majidi says he will be sharing his new skills and research with colleagues country-wide for wider impact.

“One of the objectives of being trained at IIEP is that when we go back, we can help develop the capacities of civil servants, both at the central and provincial level.”