How Afghanistan’s Building Its College System From Indiana

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

As American forces begin a slow draw-down in Afghanistan, the U.S. State Department says higher education will be key to empowering Afghans to rebuild their country. But there aren’t enough qualified college professors in Afghanistan.

So Purdue University is stepping in. Six Afghan university faculty members spent the past two and a half months in West Lafayette learning how to be more effective instructors.

It’s called the Afghan Junior Faculty Development Program. The junior faculty are here, not to earn degrees, but to learn what makes a Western university tick.  The faculty observe classes, receive English instruction, and meet with Velasquez for State Department-funded training on how to be more effective teachers.

Junior faculty member Forouzan, 27, considers it a civic duty to bring that knowledge home to build her country’s university system.

“What does my country need and what should I do for my country? That we see a lot among the young generations because they think they have a big task,” Forouzan says. (StateImpact Indiana agreed not to use the faculty member’s last names for security reasons, as their travel in the United States could be viewed with suspicion.)

Interest in Afghanistan’s higher education system has exploded. Fewer than 10,000 students were signed up for college courses when the Taliban fell.  Now, the Afghan government projects university enrollments of more than 100,000 students by 2014.

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