A New Era for Afghan Education Planners

Decentralising the education system in Afghanistan is a priority for education planners, according to Mohammed Hamid Askarzada, Senior Monitoring and Reporting Specialist at the Ministry of Education in Afghanistan and a trainee in IIEP’s Advanced Training Programme (ATP).

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“Decentralizing the system is really important for us. Provinces and districts need autonomy to be able to deliver good-quality education to children who are living in provinces and particularly those communities in remote areas,” Mr Askarzada said.

The ATP trainee explains that IIEP has been instrumental in supporting the Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE) in developing and strengthening the education system in a country which has suffered from decades of war.

Since 2002, IIEP has supported the MoE in Afghanistan to develop its National Education Strategic Plans (NESPs 1, 2 and the draft of number 3) and has provided specialized training which has empowered education planners by equipping them with better skills for planning. The support was given through courses such as the Advanced Training Programme (ATP) at IIEP in Paris, short courses, and technical support in Afghanistan from IIEP staff, funded mainly by Denmark and Norway.

This long-haul cooperation culminated recently in the setting up of a sustainable national training facility in educational planning. “IIEP also helped us establish the National Training Programme (NTP) in 2012, which allows for hundreds of education planners from provinces and districts to be trained by Afghan planners who are passing on the skills they have acquired not only at IIEP but also in the daily practice of planning at the MoE, to help build stronger systems,” Mr Askarzada said.

The education system in Afghanistan has seen massive improvements over the past 13 years, with a nine-fold increase in the numbers of children in school. In 2001, there were around a million pupils in school; today, there are more than 10 million. Under the previous regime, girls were not allowed to go to school, however after 2001 this ban on girls’ basic right to education was lifted and now some 41% of pupils are female.

Ahmad Zamir Gowara, Monitoring and Reporting Specialist in the Ministry and an ATP trainee, says the IIEP training has provided him with more effective ways of achieving results when planning, and in monitoring and evaluation.

“The new approaches we have learned are more focused on results and impact, and so the Ministry of Education is committed to apply these new approaches in the planning, monitoring and evaluation to provide the best education services for our students, communities, stakeholders and donors,” Mr Gowara said.

“For example we are conducting regular trainings for provincial and district staff to enhance their skills in planning, monitoring and report writing. Previously the focus was only on carrying out the activity of the training, but nowadays we see beyond the training and make sure that there are results. And now we can see that our colleagues do have the capacity to prepare provincial and district plans, and they are able to implement them in a way which will achieve results,” he added.

While taking part in the ATP at IIEP Headquarters, trainees are also given the opportunity to learn from and share their experiences with education planners from around the world.

“We have benefited from the exchange with a French school and gained insight into decentralization of education in French schools.  We can learn from this experience for decentralizing Afghanistan’s education system in the future,” Mohammad Nasim Qazizada, Planning Officer and Capacity Development Officer and ATP trainee, said.

“Children and youth have suffered for many years in our country due to conflict and civil war. A lack of education infrastructure, poor-quality education services and the absence of a link between education and the labour market are major challenges to the education system in Afghanistan. The education system should improve the quality of services and provide job opportunities for youth to prevent them from migrating to neighbouring countries,” he added.

 

You can apply online for the IIEP Advanced Training Programme (ATP): www.iiep.unesco.org

IIEP is the only institute in the world providing a winning combination of training in educational planning, cutting edge research, and in-country capacity development for educational bodies. All three components build on each other and are essential for making fundamental changes when building stronger education systems around the world.

IIEP believes that good educational planning is both visionary and pragmatic and offers the path to implementing education reform and transforming systems, while ensuring equal opportunities for children and youth.