In order to improve and standardize the higher education in the country, with the instruction of President Ghani, the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education has undertaken the program of national consensus of reviewing the curriculum of higher education.
The current curriculum of the universities has always been criticized for being substandard and outdated. The Afghan President has always criticized the situation and system of education in Afghan universities and has reiterated on reviewing and changing the current curriculum. He says that the higher education institutions have failed to produce professional and expert work force for the government organizations.
It comes at a time that the National Committee of Review and Development of Curriculum was established in the Ministry of Higher Educations in 2009. In 2013 this committee distributed a new curriculum to the universities and higher education universities. However, even this curriculum was not standardized and updated and it did not get implemented properly. After that, no initiative has been undertaken to revise and bring reforms to the curriculum of higher educations.
Here you would read about the current status of higher education in the country, national consensus of curriculum of the universities, and the need to change the current curriculum.
The situation of higher education
Since 1976 [1355 solar year], the year which in the Ministry of Higher Education was founded in Afghanistan, till 2001 and the formation of the new government in the country, the higher educations have experienced many ups and downs. After 2002, the state of higher education began to improve in quantity and besides the government institutions, many private universities also offered higher educations for Afghan students. Currently, about 32 government institutions and 130 private institutions are active in areas of higher education in the country. Nevertheless, despite the expenditure of billions of dollars over the past one and a half decade, the qualitative capacity of higher education is still a major challenge in areas of higher education in Afghanistan.
In this regard the followings are noteworthy:
- Lack of a national strategy for education;
- Poor management in higher education;
- The current curriculum is not updated and does not meet the needs of the country;
- Lack of coordination in accepting students in various faculties based on the demands of the market.
- Lack of educational tools in the higher education institutions;
- Weak monitoring in the universities;
- Lack of professional and academic full-time cadres;
- Lack of scientific researches and infrastructures for debates and scientific researches.
The challenges mentioned above and some other issues have led not only to the submission of obsolete work force to the bazar but also in most cases the fate of the youth has become a serious issue of the society.
National Consensus of curriculum
Given the serious need for a standardized curriculum for universities, the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education has decided to take some steps to this end. The process of National Consensus of Curriculum, Review, and Standardization (NCCRS) is an initiative of the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education which will review the current curriculum and prepare it in accordance with the needs of Bazar.
Based on the remarks of the officials in the Ministry of Higher Education, the discussions of the experts of national consensus of the curriculum will be around the six following points:
- The review and the structure of current educational departments and faculties in the universities;
- Evaluation and review of the curriculum and updating it and making it based on the needs of employment market and making it an equivalent of the education systems of other countries in the world;
- The implementation of credit system in all universities;
- Introduction of new methods of teaching;
- Increasing the role of research in universities;
- Evaluation of the resources and academic developments of the professors.
Although the review of the curriculum is an important event in areas of higher education, there seems to be some challenges on its way that may led to the implementation of only a propaganda conference and such schemes may remain on the papers.
In the meanwhile, the time that the Ministry of Higher educations has given to renew and standardize the curriculum is not a sufficient time. If the Ministry of higher education brought the necessary changes even in several years, that would be a success.
The main issue of the universities and the higher education institutions in the country are lack of profession and academic cadres and educational tools, and low level of education of the graduates of the secondary educations. The officials in the Ministry of Higher Education also accept that there are circles that have filled the positions as professors in the universities who do not let the educated stratum to be appointed as lecturers in the institutions of higher education.
Therefore, even if the Ministry of Higher Education succeeded in standardizing the curriculum, with the presence of professors whose 50% only hold a bachelor degree, it would be very difficult to implement such a curriculum. Moreover, poor management in the Ministry of Higher Education and weak monitoring administrations to oversee the implementation process of a standardized curriculum are other challenges in this regard.
Overall, given the efforts that the Ministry has undertaken and the execution plan of this process, which the researchers in CSRS have accessed, this process seems rather a propaganda move and this strategic issue is not treated the way it deserves to be treated.
There is a need to change the system of higher education but how?
Although the country fiercely needs the development of a curriculum based on the present situations in the country and worldly standards, how can such a system be developed? In this regard the following points are noteworthy:
- The Ministry of Higher Education needs to, first, reform its management system and second, to develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses all the existing challenges in the higher education institutions in the country.
- Efforts must be undertaken to improve the quality of the secondary educations which are the bases of the higher education. Moreover, the relevant ministry should also undertake a system that enables the universities to accepts students based on the needs of the Bazar.
- Currently, the research bodies in the Afghan universities does not exist or are very week and since these bodies are key elements in improving the quality of education, investments must be made in this area and the research and scientific infrastructures must be constructed.
- Urging the lecturers to write academic debates. It means that instead of promoting lecturers after writing books, the Ministry of Higher Education must develop a system that necessitates the writing exact scientific debates for lecturers to be promoted.
- Education tools are also in integrated part of the education. Therefore, the relevant Ministry must build equipped libraries in universities and other higher education institutions. Moreover, the way for students to access online libraries and information centers around the world must be paved.
- In order to achieve and implement the issues mentioned above, it is clear that sufficient budget is required. Therefore, the budget allocated to the Higher Educations must be increased.
A qualified higher education may led to developing the employment opportunities based on the employment market as well as the improvement of the quality of higher education in the country. But achieving this end will not be possible only by sketching schemes on the paper and organizing fabulous gatherings and stating statements.
The current initiative of the Ministry of Higher education is a good step towards improving the quality of education in the country but the ministry’s execution plan seems to consist many problems.
Overall, the Ministry of Higher Education is faced with lack of an exact and efficient strategy in system of both its management and the higher education. Therefore, the main issue is the implementation of the scheme and it will only be resolved through brining fundamental changes in the Ministry and the system of higher educations.
Moreover, in the midst of all this, the acting Minister of Higher Education has resigned which is a noteworthy issue in the current circumstances.