Afghan students pursue advanced English and IT training at UCA, Khorog
Twelve young learners from the rural areas of Afghan Badakhshan and Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), Tajikistan arrived at the University of Central Asia’s (UCA), School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) in Khorog, Tajikistan to pursue advanced courses in English and Information Technology (IT) in October 2012.
The learners were part of the Cross-Border Vocational Education in Badakhshan Phase II (CVEB II) project, implemented by UCA and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Aga Khan Foundation USA. In Phase II, the CVEB project aims to foster cross-border co-operation and job creation through training according to current labour market needs.
CVEB emphasizes cultural exchange, enrolling Afghan and Tajik students in English classes to encourage cross-cultural learning. In Phase II, students are undergoing SPCE’s new English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course, a comprehensive and intensive programme preparing students for admission to university. This CVEB course trains Afghan and Tajik students to teach English, and incorporates the latest teaching methodologies.
Under CVEB II, SPCE awarded 84 full scholarships to Afghan and Tajik students to pursue basic and advanced courses in English, IT and Accounting at its Khorog campus. Some Afghan students have returned after successfully completing basic courses as part of the first phase of CVEB in 2011. The advanced level learners will spend the six months developing advanced knowledge and critical thinking skills, while engaging in ‘talking clubs’ with their Afghan and Tajik peers.
Naweed Hajighulam Mohammad, 21, from Faizabad, Afghanistan decided to pursue CVEB II because the earlier phase helped strengthen his knowledge and led to new opportunities; “When I returned to Faizabad from Khorog after CVEB I, I resumed work at Maiwand Bank. With my newly acquired skills, I was shortly promoted to IT Officer.”
|Naweed Hajighulam Mohammad|
An active student in the first phase, Naweed performed academically and organised cultural performances as an extra-curricular activity. Delighted with his experience, he encourages other Afghan students to pursue this opportunity, “I have applied to CVEB twice, and I would definitely recommend my fellow Afghans to apply.”
Soson Qurbanali, 25, from Zebok district of Badakshan province, Afghanistan, also received a CVEB I scholarship. He recalls travelling a long distance from Zebok to Faizabad for the scholarship interview. Before beginning CVEB I in October 2010, Soson was an English teacher at his alma mater high school.
“I was teaching English with only a high school education. Studying at SPCE helped me improve my English,” said Soson. “When I returned home, within a couple of months my family moved to Faizabad. The knowledge I acquired at UCA was very helpful in securing a teaching job at the “Ajeer” Learning Center.” Soson, the eldest in his family, is so far the only child to study outside Afghanistan.
Zohir Asanshoev, Soson’s ‘English for Academic Purposes’ instructor, is pleased with Soson's performance and his professional progress. “It is heartening to see Soson’s progress and the effort he and his classmates dedicate to improve their Academic English. As his instructor, I am encouraged to know it is students like Soson who will initiate positive changes to the education system when they return home,” he said.
The Cross Border Vocational Education (CVEB) Phase II project is a one year programme implemented by UCA's School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE). Building on the experience of CVEB Phase I in delivering short cycle education in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) in Tajikistan, the overall goal of CVEB II is to continue to foster cross border cooperation and job creation between Afghan Badakhshan and GBAO, Tajikistan.
SPCE's Khorog Campus administered 70 scholarships for Afghans to pursue basic and advanced level courses in the areas of English, Information Technology and Accounting. Students receive intensive in-residence training at SPCE Khorog and also participate in extracurricular activities. As the programme targets learners who are interested in becoming instructors, the advanced courses include elements of teaching methodology. CVEB II also awarded 14 scholarships for Tajik learners from across GBAO.