IRC Advances Afghan Education System
An IRC female education program trainer in an April workshop with Afghan secondary school principals in Kabul (Photo: IRC)
Responding to a request from the Afghan education ministry, the International Rescue Committee education staff in April held a 15-day management training for 25 education ministry staff, followed by administrative training for 49 headmasters in Kabul.
Afghan deputy education minister Mohammad Moeen Marastyal in February asked the IRC female education program based in Pakistan to train secondary school principals and ministry staff in Kabul.
School Management Training
Following the April training, IRC staff are now visiting schools to see how the workshop skills are being applied at work and assess needs of the students, and plans are afoot to follow-up with a pedagogy training to address the post-conflict, psychosocial problems of Afghan children.
IRC education staff training methods are interactive and participatory, with emphasis on practical demonstrations. The education minister said during one of several visits to the Kabul training sessions that the trainings were the first of their kind ever held in Afghanistan. Kabul Television, Radio Azadi, and Pashto and Dari press all covered the workshop.
One female headmaster said the training was the first training relevant to her job in education. "The NGOs tell us about landmines all the time, which is good, but doesn't help us become effective school principals. This training will have a direct effect on our role as school administrators."
A typical Kabul street school in Kabul. IRC's education program provides teachers and school materials to schools throughout Afghanistan. (Photo: IRC)
Return and Reintegration
The capacity-building training is part of IRC's latest initiative, the Reintegration Unit, which emphasizes the organization's rehabilitation and reconstruction effort by providing the building blocks necessary to rebuild Afghanistan's education sector and support the work of the Afghan government, Naomi Reich, IRC female education coordinator in Pakistan, said.
The IRC is involving education ministry staff to give a hands-on experience in conducting needs assessments and project implementation. "What we are trying to do is create an institutional memory that will stay back long after we have left," IRC education manager Manjola Cola said.
To ensure that refugee students returning from Pakistan continue schooling in Afghanistan, the Reintegration Unit has teamed up with provincial education authorities to explore the possibilities of attracting assistance from NGOs to set up schools in underserved areas. IRC operations target areas where number of returnees and education needs are high, but where government reach is limited.
The IRC is the first organization providing Afghan refugee education in Pakistan to successfully register its schools with the Afghan Consulate Education Department in Pakistan. While working with the education ministry to recognize student and teacher credentials from IRC schools in Pakistan, the IRC Reintegration Unit has shared information and strategies for reinsertion of repatriating students and teachers into the Afghan education system. For two decades, the IRC has been educating Afghan women and children in refugee schools and homes, and through the difficult Taliban years, putting together pieces of an education system torn apart by decades of war and anarchy.