Indian-funded ANASTU on brink of closure
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Government’s negligence and other problems have pushed the Afghan National Agricultural Sciences and Technology University (ANASTU) in southern Kandahar province to the verge of closure.
Former president Hamid Karzai and Indian foreign minister Salman Khurshid inaugurated the university in February 2014 in the sprawling Tarnak farm.
At that time it was said students at the university would do doctorate and master’s level studies and both local and foreign teachers would be appointed.
But despite the passage of about two years, the university has been without leadership, library and laboratory, with the Ministry of Higher Education paying no head. So far 21 students have been enrolled in the university.
Nisar Ahmad, a student of the university, told Pajhwok Afghan News former Kandahar governor Dr. Toryalai Wesa was appointed as chancellor of the university at the beginning, but he had been busy dealing with provincial government’s affairs.
He said Wesa would rarely visit the university and had been unable to give special attention to the institute.
Few months ago when Wesa was replaced by a new governor, it was hoped he would now pay attention to the university, but he did not pay a single visit to the campus currently plagued by a number of administrative issue, the student said.
“Dr. Toryalai Wesa after his removal as the governor had been in Kabul for two or three months and then went to Canada, leaving the university without a leadership.”
He said the big problem was the Ministry of Higher Education’s inattention to the university as so far no official from the ministry had visited the campus.
He said the situation had created many problems for the university administrative staff and pushed the institute on the brink of closure.
He urged President Ashraf Ghani to rescue the university from being closed by resolving problems on the campus.
Another student, Asmatullah, had similar complaints. He said since the inauguration of the university two years ago, only 21 students had been enrolled, a process currently brought to a halt.
“The former Kandahar governor did not discharge his duty as chancellor of the university even for a single day. Previously all the affairs would be handled by vice-chancellor Dr. Rokhan Wolasmal, but he was recently appointed as Kandahar mayor.”
He said the real issue lied with the Ministry of Higher Education which did not want the university to be in Kandahar and thus ignoring it.
An official at the university administration, wishing to go unnamed, acknowledged the university was on the verge of closure.
He said former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had pledged the university’s establishment in 2011 when he visited Afghanistan and the project was said to be part of India’s $500 million assistance for Afghanistan.
It had been pledged that until the university was fully established on the Tarnak research farm with $100 million Indian aid, its affairs would be run at the Canadian-built Agriculture and Livestock Institute in Kandahar City, he said, but added the university building’s reconstruction was yet to be launched.
About the importance of ANASTU, the official said agricultural research, extension and training were the three basic components developed countries had adopted to realise economic self-sufficiency. He said the entire nation had their eyes fixed on ANASTU.
He said countries who had adopted the three components formula had not only been able to achieve self-sufficiency but they fulfilled needs of other countries.
The official said it had been promised that 11 faculties would be established at the university and master’s degree and PhD classes would be launched for graduates from other agricultural universities.
He accused the Ministry of Higher Education of overlooking the university despite continued Indian assistance.
The university’s first-ever batch of 21 scientists had been trained for six months in the field of livestock management, crop protection, horticulture and agronomy and agriculture extension at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)
But the official said the real issue was the absence of leadership, which needed to be resolved and affairs on the campus intensified.
He said they had time and again shared the university problems with the provincial administration, but there had been no positive response.
The governor’s spokesman, Samim Khpalwak, admitted the problems and said they would investigate the problems and would take measures to resolve them.
He said the provincial government was committed to keeping the university functional as it should be.
Former president Karzai during the university’s inauguration had said the institute would help Afghanistan achieve agricultural self-sufficiency and turn it into a huge centre of exports.
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