'Information technology is the door to the world in the era of globalisation. It enables Afghanistan to join the international economy.' This was the motto of the event at the Federal Foreign Office for this year’s master’s programme for 14 information technology lecturers from Afghanistan.
With the support of the Federal Foreign Office and in cooperation with the German Academic Exchange Service, the Centre for International and Intercultural Communication (ZiiK) at Technische Universität Berlin offers a master’s degree programme in Germany for computer scientists from Afghanistan. The students currently on the programme are the third generation of Afghan computer scientists to study in Germany. The programme is very efficient. According to ZiiK, each of the graduates shares his or her new skills and knowledge with around 2,000 students in Afghanistan. This means that the course has a huge multiplier effect. Information technology is now the third most popular degree subject in Afghanistan, after medicine and engineering.
Help for technology network
The Federal Foreign Office has been helping to establish an information technology training structure in Afghan universities since 2002, using funds from the Afghanistan Stability Pact. Under the management of Dr Nazir Peroz, ZiiK has installed infrastructure in universities in five cities in Afghanistan (Kabul, Herat, Mazar‑e‑Sharif, Jalalabad and Kandahar). It has donated material and equipment, organised teaching visits by German lecturers to Afghanistan and provided training for Afghan lecturers and students in Germany. This is not only of benefit to the universities’ computer science faculties. The technology network has also fostered academic and higher education collaboration between the five most important universities in the country. The IT graduates of these faculties are also sought after by Afghanistan’s business sector and public administration.
Further support in the future
The dean of the computer science faculty at Balkh University, Abdul Rahman Naveed, said that crucial steps had been taken, but that further support was needed in order to maintain the capacities that had been established. “We still need a helping hand from you.” Naveed gave an example of the problems facing the universities: they can currently only offer bachelor’s degree programmes, as their lecturers do not hold a doctorate. The German Academic Exchange Service is providing grants for two lecturers – including a woman – from Kabul University to do a doctorate. This will allow their university to offer a master’s degree programme. In addition, 25 new students will start the Master’s in Computer Science at Technische Universität Berlin in the winter term.