New SPCE Centre to be Located in Kabul
UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) is coming to Kabul, the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. On December 16th 2020, three agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network, the University of Central Asia (UCA), the Aga Khan Foundation-Afghanistan (AKF-A), and the Aga Khan Education Services-Afghanistan (AKES-F) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish an SPCE located in Kabul.
Local dignitaries attended the virtual signing of the MOU, which took place during an online ceremony, with AKF-Afghanistan, and AKES-Afghanistan officials affixing their signatures in Kabul, and UCA officials in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Kabul will be the sixth SPCE location in Afghanistan, and like the other five centres, it will operate under the AKF-Afghanistan umbrella. It will offer high-level English language programmes based on the Cambridge Assessment English curricula and English for Academic Purposes.
In his opening remarks, Dilovar Butabekov, SPCE Director, gave a brief history of SPCE programs and underlined the impact these short courses have had in improving the quality of life of local communities.
The President of the Ismaili National Council for Afghanistan, Aitmadi Amirbaig, thanked all three agencies for the SPCE expansion, and expressed hope that UCA would also establish and deliver Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Kabul.
Ms. Sherazade Hirji, Diplomatic Representative of AKDN in Afghanistan, described the new development as a strategic move and a new milestone for SPCE. “While in Kabul today there are many public and private organizations. what is missing is excellence and quality in the educational system.”
Prof Dr. S. Sohail H. Naqvi, Rector of UCA, noted that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, SPCE has been making great efforts to provide quality programs in Afghanistan. He cited the AI-engine led English language learning and testing programme (CATs) as a good example of innovation and a timely response to the situation. He described Afghanistan as “a land of opportunities,” and said innovation would help bring back glory to the country. He also mentioned previous discussions about opening a UCA campus in Afghanistan, which he said would depend on funding opportunities.
SPCE efforts have been life-changing, said Dr. Najmuddin Najm, Chief Executive Officer of AKF-Afghanistan in his remarks. “Years back it was very hard to find men and women with better education or people who valued quality education. But, today, when we visit Nusai we find many young girls and women taking UCA’s SPCE course, and graduates of these programs working in that community”. He expressed AKF-A’s commitment to strengthening this partnership and supporting UCA programs.
Najeebullah Musafirzada, Chief Executive Officer of AKES-Afghanistan, expressed the hope that the partnership, which is part of SPCE’s five-year strategic plan to build locations in capital cities, would further elevate the quality of learning in Kabul. He also noted the successful partnership of AKES-Afghanistan and UCA in Badakhshan. AKES-Afghanistan has agreed to provide the facilities, electricity, ancillary staff, and Internet for the program on a pro-bono basis.
The Dean of UCA’s Graduate School of Development, Dr. Bohdan Krawchenko, offered the closing remarks, in which he recalled the SPCE 2017 graduation ceremony in Ishkashim and said “it was a wonderful achievement to see that SPCE programs have helped to empower women and girls by providing them with high quality English language skills up to higher intermediate levels.”