March 13, 2016

First Master of Educational Leadership & Management at SREU, an Afghan University

Written by USAID Afghanistan University Support & Workforce Development Program (USWDP) Team, FHI 360

Workforce development classroom

Minister of Higher Education, Her Excellency Dr. Farida Momand, inaugurated a new advanced degree program that will develop and support the careers of teaching professionals, educational administrators, researchers and policymakers at the Shaheed Ostad Rabbani Education University (SREU).

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its University Support and Workforce Development Program (USWDP), supported the establishment of the first ever Master of Educational Leadership and Management (MELM) degree at the Shaheed Ostad Rabbani Education University in 2014. USWDP along with its technical partner, University of Massachusetts Amherst, developed the said degree to an internationally acceptable standard. The first cohort of 24 students (12 male and 12 female) started classes on October 28, 2015 after completing a competitive admission process consisting of English proficiency and content tests and a robust interview. The students will graduate after successful completion of 40 credits, over four semesters in a span of two years.

“Through this program, educators will be empowered to serve as change agents at policy and decision making levels,” said USAID Mission Director, Herbert Smith. “As the number of Afghan students in the education system continues to grow, the graduates of this master’s degree program will ensure the quality of their education improves as well.”

“Through this program, educators will be empowered to serve as change agents at policy and decision making levels,” said USAID Mission Director, Herbert Smith. “As the number of Afghan students in the education system continues to grow, the graduates of this master’s degree program will ensure the quality of their education improves as well.”

“Thank you for USAID’s longstanding investment in higher education,” said Minister Momand. “This new Master of Educational Leadership and Management program will help build a strong and solid foundation so that Afghanistan’s future educational system will fulfill the development needs of the country and its population.”

The new degree will expand the educators’ leadership and managerial capabilities and prepare them to become leaders in the field of education and contribute to improving the quality of education throughout Afghanistan.

USWDP signed the Letter of Agreement with Shaheed Ostad Rabbani Education University on November 25, 2014, which formalized the relationship between USWDP and the host university on the MELM establishment. The Partnership Agreement was signed between the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the two aforementioned entities on February 9, 2015. The University of Massachusetts assisted the host university in curriculum development, faculty training and development, quality monitoring and supervision of graduate activities, and will provide teaching and learning materials.

USWDP has established a Steering Committee led by the Shaheed Ostad Rabbani Education University Chancellor, Dr. Amanullah Hamidzai, and a Master Board Committee led by the Dean of Professional Education Faculty, Karima Sahbani-Dareez.

The motive behind establishing the two committees is to ensure that the host university take full ownership of the degree by overseeing the degree establishment process from developing the policy document to finding an international partner and deciding on inauguration and graduation dates. USWDP has reconditioned the program office as well as a classroom for the MELM degree. Dr. Toni Christensen, Curriculum Development Consultant at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, visited the host university twice and advised the two aforementioned committees on curriculum development. USWDP has signed three Doctor of Philosophy holders to teach the core MELM subjects.

Background on USAID-Sponsored Degrees:

USAID, through USWDP, partners with the Afghan public universities with the aim to design new workforce relevant degree programs across Afghanistan. As a result, it supports the establishment and enhancement of associate, undergraduate and graduate degree programs at the eleven public universities, namely Kabul University, Kabul Polytechnic University, Kabul Medical University, Shaheed Ostad Rabbani Education University, Kandahar University, Balkh University, Herat University, Kunduz University, Nangarhar University, Khost University and Jawzjan University. The Associate Degree in Information Technology at the Kabul Polytechnic University, the Bachelor of Food Technology at the Herat University and the Master of Public Policy and Administration at the Kabul University are some of the examples of such support.

Partnerships between international and Afghan universities is a vital component of the USAID’s USWDP efforts to help further develop Afghanistan’s higher education institutions. The higher education sector has been relatively underfunded and assistance from the international community is limited. Regional and international university partnerships with Afghan institutions will result in institutional capacity development as well as the development and modernization of the existing degree programs and other academic capacities. Improved education systems at public universities will enable graduates of the Afghan public universities to be more competitive in local and international job markets, which can contribute to a more developed economy and society. USWDP is mandated to engage regional and international universities through a formalized partnership with the eleven aforementioned Afghan public universities, which will lead to the development of new and enhancement of existing degree programs with focus on market-oriented knowledge and skills.

The partner universities are selected through a transparent process that begins with advertising the opportunity through a call for letters of interest on various websites. After receiving expressions of interest, they are evaluated based on several factors including perceived efficacy of a partner in achieving program goals, value and cost relativity, credentials, and other relevant factors. USWDP, together with the host Afghan university, select the strongest institution based on the evaluation criteria.

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