WB wants more girl students in varsities
KABUL (PAN): The World Bank, releasing its report on higher education in Afghanistan, on Saturday asked the government to increase facilities on university campuses to encourage girls' enrolment and stressed the importance of improving skills.
Harsha Aturupane, a lead education specialist in the World Bank, and Minister of Higher Education Obaidullah Obaid launched the report at a joint press conference in Kabul.
Aturupane, who led the study that took a year to complete, said Afghanistan had achieved considerable progress in diverse fields, especially in higher education, but there was need for advanced training for master’s and directorate degree-holders.
He said more attention should be given to the quality of higher education, saying if the quality was not high, it had not been low either in Afghanistan.
The expert suggested Afghan universities should be connected with universities in the South Asian region, a move he believed would strengthen students’ trust in their institutions.
He said efforts should be made to enable universities in Afghanistan to absorb more students, especially girls, who according to Aturupane made 19 percent of all students enrolled last year.
The Afghan government should device a strategy that could help increase the number of female students on campuses, he said.
He recommended the Afghan government should strengthen security for girl students and provide them with hostels and other facilities.
According to the Higher Education Ministry, 31 public sector and 80 private universities are operational across the country.
The ministry spokesman, Azim Noor Bakhsh, told Pajhwok Afghan News 150,000 students were currently studying in public and 100,000 in private sector higher education institutes, with girls constituting 25 percent of them.
In an exclusive chat with Pajhwok, Aturupane said Afghan universities needed to give more importance to science, information technology, engineering, medical, economics, mathematics and English language and other such areas crucial to the country’s economic growth.
He said the World Bank was ready to assist Afghanistan in the area of higher education. The bank has so far invested $70 million in the high education sector over the past eight years and is ready to do so over the next five years, he said.
He said the bank and the Afghan ministry of higher education mulled over a five-year plan that would help increase the number of students on campuses.
Special focus will be given to skills needed to enable the nation’s workforce to become more competitive and help bolster economic growth.
Illango Pachamuthu, World Bank acting country director for Afghanistan, promised the bank would continue to assist the country over the next decade.
He said higher education played a crucial role in a country’s development and the World Bank was ready to assist Afghanistan in this regard.
Obaid acknowledged the WB’s findings, saying his ministry would continue to make efforts at resolving the existing problems.
He said new buildings should be constructed on campuses in order to absorb more students. He said equipment and facilities were required to have professional teachers and skilled workforce.
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