Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Reforming and Improving the System of Higher Education

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Reforming and Improving the System of Higher Education

Afghan President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani pointed out at the beginning ceremony of the new academic year that the current educational system of Afghan universities did not meet the needs of the country and its delay in reforming would lead to “national catastrophe”. Addressing university professors, he said that the century had been changed but your chapters did not.
In fact, Afghanistan is beset by a myriad of challenges; however, if one ponders upon this issue, the root causes of the problems will be changed through reforming educational system.
Let us first view the educational ranking of Afghanistan. According to SJR International Search Ranking Website, the number of articles written in Afghanistan in 2016 and published in reputable international journals are about 162 which ranks the country 140. If we view ten top positions, we will come to know that the countries which produce high quality articles are also ranked high in economy. For example, the US and China which held the first and second status in producing academic articles in 2016, are also strong economically. But Afghanistan's GDP has reached $18 billion, ranked in 114 among countries.
In fact, there is a direct relationship between stock of knowledge and GDP or strong economy. The higher the production of knowledge is, the more dynamic a country’s economy will be.
On the other hand, when one searches the subject of commentaries for Afghanistan published in reputable journals, the bulk of articles are in the field of math (50), medicine (49), engineering (23), agriculture (22), social science (11), etc. but only one article has been recorded for Afghanistan out of 160.
Considering the 185 thousand students and 5500 lecturers who are teaching in 56 state universities and 140 thousand students and 3700 lecturers teaching in 128 private universities, the said number of articles is not satisfactory.
Needless to say, the number of articles at national level will be high but the articles which are published in reputable international journals are low. It is also a fact that the relation between Afghan university students and lecturers on one side and international educational centers and publication on the other side is very loose. Therefore, the ministry of higher education and as well as state and private universities will have to strengthen their relations with reputable universities and educational publications.
Within the past fifteen years, the number of university students and lecturers has developed to a great extent. However, now it is time for developing the quality of universities. Afghan lecturers should be updated with modern knowledge and the issues of society and students must upgrade the level of their knowledge. This needs to be done both at the levels of managing universities and ministry of higher education. In brief, qualitative development should be prioritized by universities and ministry of higher education.
It goes without saying that Afghan people are wrestling with poverty and unemployment. First of all, the country will have to address the financial problems, unemployment and poverty. Hence, producing educational commentaries and conducting educational seminars in the field of economy should develop to a higher level. The government also needs to announce the priority of educational research annually, particularly in the field of economy, so that the researchers can do the necessary research in this regard and, on the other hand, the state will be able to utilize the outcome of the researches in promoting their program.
The next issue is that the Konkor top position holders were engaged in studying medical field in past years and will continue to study the same field this year. That is to say, the energy of our top elites will be spent in treating patients. Although the medical field is highly significant and those interested in this field should be given the opportunity to study it, if we suppose that 5 percent of our people is patient, our elite will be involved in resolving the problems of 5 percent. But the problems of 95 percent of healthy individuals who have economic or social problems will remain unaddressed. The complication of human societies multiplies with each passing day and our top elites should study social science so as to curb the challenges through educational analyses.
Our security challenge is the next issue. Perhaps lack of employment of our elites in security sector and organizing national army and police will be the main problem. It does not necessarily mean that our security sector is devoid of creative and elite people but there might be less number of such expert individuals who are not enough to handle all issues. Thus, those interested in security sector must be employed, too.  
One of the significant responsibilities of the government, particularly of ministry of education, is to create a think tank with different fields to support academic research with top national priorities. Material and spiritual support of such researches will certainly strengthen the quantitative and qualitative research projects in the country. It will ultimately strengthen governance and economics and solve the underlying problems of society.
To sum up:

  1. There is a direct relationship between the country’s economy and the production of scientific articles.
  2. Prioritizing educational guidance and categorizing the elite and creative individuals in different educational fields.
  3. Introducing research and scientific priorities to students.
  4. Strengthening relations between state and private universities on one side and educational centers and international publications on the other side.  
  5. Establishing think tank and supporting reputable international researches and utilizing them for promoting the government’s plans.

Mohammad Mahdi Shafayi is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at the outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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