Education plays a vital role in achieving the SDGs. In order to help access to quality education, we will adopt a three-tier solution. Firstly, we will conduct a systematic study of higher education in Afghanistan with the aim of formulating recommendations for improvement. Secondly, we intend to increase access to higher education by providing quality affordable programs in our faculties. Thirdly, we will offer specialized educational programs on the SDGs.
a. Analysis and Improvement of Higher Education
SDSN Afghanistan will 1) Assist interested universities to conduct an assessment of their academic programs in terms of SDGs programs, 2) conduct training for university lecturers, 3) inspire the use of technology in the higher education system, 4) encourage increased student exchange programs within universities, 5) establish a digital library and 6) promote professional dimension of knowledge. The purpose is to improve employment, entrepreneurship, and help Afghans get decent jobs.
The proposed annual program review will be conducted to align academic programs at the universities with the market demand, to integrate knowledge on SDGs into the university curriculum, and to promote innovations in teaching and learning methodologies to increase efficiency in higher education.
A practical step is the provision of training and capacity building to university lecturers in order to ensure sustainability within the higher education institutions. In close collaboration with the member universities and their technical personnel, SDSN Afghanistan will mobilize resources and develop training programs on instruction methodologies and provide opportunities to lecturers to continue their formal education locally and internationally.
Higher education in Afghanistan needs to keep pace with the changing world by integrating technology in learning. Adoption of advanced methods like learning management systems and E-learning can change the dynamics of higher education in the country. SDSN Afghanistan will introduce its partner universities currently using these systems as good examples to inspire others to learn and adapt. The American University of Afghanistan, Kateb University and Kardan University are the leading universities in this regard. SDSN Afghanistan can partner with these universities and inspire others to adopt such efficient strategies.
An important step is to encourage exchange programs in the forms of student, faculty and staff exchange with universities in the region and globally. SDSN global partners can help build these connections. We believe that with the right network developed by SDSN Afghanistan, universities in the country will organically expand their exchange program efforts. The experience earned through this effort can help highly motivated individuals to bring home knowledge, experience and innovative ideas.
Establishment of a digital library in Afghanistan can provide access to knowledge beyond ordinary reaches. To do this, we can approach SDSN Networks across the globe to share their study materials with the world’s most deprived academia. It is noteworthy that Kateb University is already willing to invest in this idea.
b. Access to Higher Education
Tens of thousands of students are left out of universities every year in Afghanistan. The reason is obvious: National universities do not have the capacity to admit them all. The university entrance exam leaves behind more than 50,000 students out of universities. Private universities in the country have the capacity for only 7,000 of them. In order to address this issue, we have drafted a practical plan. Firstly, we need strong policy advocacy for more students in university classes where quality teaching is provided. Secondly, other pathways to education including E-learning must be recognized with officially approved degree certificates. Finally, an academic council needs to be established that provides needs-based local and international scholarships to members of the community who are most in need.
c. Education in SDGs
Currently, no university in the country is offering a degree in Sustainable Development. Establishing a formal degree in sustainable development studies for bachelors, masters and Ph.D. levels would set Afghanistan on a better course towards achieving Agenda 2030. The degrees would be interdisciplinary and customized versions focusing on problems of Afghanistan. Another option is to join the MDP (Master of Development Practice), an interdisciplinary graduate degree program that prepares students to better identify and address the challenges of sustainable development.
Finally, as part of our efforts to educate Afghanistan on the SDGs, we intend to create executive education programs on A-SDGs targeted at government officials and other public and private sector contributors. For this, the SDG Academy learning materials will be customized based on Afghan national needs, language, and context.