USAID signed a one-year agreement with the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Center for International Education to provide assistance to 18 universities in Afghanistan. Under the agreement, UMass will provide continued support for two master’s degree programs, in-country opportunities for improving teaching methods and access to internet and printed reference materials, demonstrating ongoing USAID commitment to strengthen higher education.
Under the terms of the agreement, UMass and its partner Indiana University will bolster the capacity of the Ministry of Higher Education to lead policy and program initiatives in higher education, improve the quality of university teaching through faculty professional development, and further strengthen two masters’ degree programs – English, and Public Policy and Administration. These programs, as well as generalized support for e-learning, research skills and seminars for both faculty and students, are key to improving the quality of Afghan education. The UMass-led program will also expand access to leading academic, scientific and research journals, and help Afghan professors maintain current knowledge of their fields of specialization.
USAID’s Higher Education Program seeks to develop four critical areas of higher education. Technical experts from universities will assist the Ministry in strategic planning, budgeting, and management systems development to support implementation of the National Higher Education Strategic Plan. Financial assistance will support the enrollment of students in the Master’s in Education program at Kabul Education University. Updating undergraduate and masters’ programs in Public Policy and Administration will better meet the training and professional development needs of Afghanistan’s civil service. Finally, management of 15 e-learning and professional development centers for faculty and students will provide faculty members with extracurricular learning opportunities in English language, computer skills, and research methodology.
“I am very pleased that HEP will be working with us for the next year on the implementation of the Higher Education Strategic Plan. Many people at the Ministry, the U.S. Embassy and USAID have worked very hard to bring about this extension,” said Professor Mohammad Osman Babury, Deputy Minister of Higher Education (Academic Affrairs).
For the past five years, UMass has assisted the Ministry with developing new master’s programs, training professors in teaching methodologies, research and internet skills, and provision of support for scholarships abroad. The new $9.9 million award will build upon the solid relationships UMass has established with Afghan universities and the Ministry.