The role of a national training centre in Afghanistan

Successful plan implementation depends on the capacities and overall commitment of a country’s local education offices and administration. As Afghanistan shows, national training centres can play an important role. 

Afghanistan’s recently launched third National Education Strategic Plan (NESP-III) sets the direction for the education sector over the next five years until 2021. Developed and endorsed by both Afghanistan’s government and partners, it puts special emphasis on improving educational quality and relevance, equitable access, and efficient and transparent management.

The NESP-III comes amid many changes in Afghanistan’s education system. Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, educational opportunities have opened for many. Enrolment has increased nine fold, from below one million in 2001 to 9.2 million in 2016. The number of schools have surged from 3,400 to 16,400 and teacher investment has become a priority. Furthermore, nearly 40% of those enrolled are now girls, compared to under one percent during the Taliban years. 

Education officials in the country hope to see the NESP-III build on these gains, despite ongoing insecurity, corruption, and overall capacity constraints facing its administration. Concurrently, provincial education plans are created and implemented across Afghanistan to help respond to the varying needs of the country. The actions taken across the country’s provinces to improve access and quality of education hinge on the overall capacities of education officials and institutions to properly develop, implement, and monitor the plans.

The National Institute for Educational Planning (NIEP) plays an important role in bolstering capacities of national and sub-national level educational planners and managers. Since officially opening its doors in Kabul two years ago, the NIEP has become an example of how a country in a complex context has established a sustainable local mechanism to develop planning capacities. 

National Institute for Educational Planning, Afghanistan. (credit: NIEP)


After the Taliban fell, the Ministry of Education struggled to adequately respond to the challenges of reconstruction. Many experts had left for international NGOs and UN agencies, and those who stayed had few opportunities to update their knowledge and skills. To fill this gap, the Ministry recruited national technical advisors on a temporary basis with funding from international donors. While these advisors, who were often former Afghan refugees from Iran and Pakistan with higher education degrees, had some positive effects in the short-term, it was not a lasting solution.

Fast forward a decade, and the Ministry’s planning department began to search with donors for a more sustainable way of addressing needs in planning and management. The National Training Programme started in 2012, and three years later the NIEP was inaugurated, a full training centre under the MoE’s Deputy Ministry for Technical and Vocational Education and Training. IIEP provided technical advice on its set-up and assisted the Ministry with the development of a programme syllabus and training materials. 

As a result, Afghanistan went from being a training beneficiary to a training provider, reaching officials both in Kabul and across the provinces. Today, 606 MoE officials at the provincial level (of which 7% are women) have received in-service training and are contributing to an overall stronger educational administration. The NIEP also diversified its initial training offer to provide pre-service training courses for 234 female high school graduates, enabling them to seek employment in the education sector. It also offers evening courses and is expected to offer short-term courses in coming years.  By strengthening the core competencies of educational officials it is hoped that the country can be in a better position to successfully implement the new plan and further improve its education system. 

 

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