The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has once more made a sum of money available to the agricultural teacher training programme in Kabul, which was established with help from Wageningen University & Research. With the sum of 6.6 million euros, the National Agricultural Education College (NAEC) in Kabul will be able to continue working for the next five years.
Students of the National Agricultural Education College are being taught at the college’s on-campus farm. © NAEC
Since NAEC opened its doors in 2012, 635 students have successfully finished the two-year agricultural teacher training programme. The graduates of NAEC can teach in agricultural high schools in Afghanistan, which are at a level comparable to the Dutch MBO education. The Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (CDI) supports NAEC and has assisted in developing teaching material for the high schools.
‘The support from the Dutch government and from Wageningen University & Research is truly fantastic for the Afghan people’, says Raheel Mohammad Formuly, Afghan Deputy Minister for Technical and Vocational Education. ‘Changes require a lot of time and effort. But agricultural education and up-to-date knowledge of simple methods can change the lives of farmers, as these lead to an increased productivity.’
The teacher training programme in Kabul is free. The only condition is that students have the right prior education and pass the entrance exam. Around 15 percent of the graduates are women. ‘NAEC want to attract more female students. This is why we have started a preparatory course for girls who lack the right prior education’, says Dutch project leader Hans van Otterloo. Most of the male students come from the provinces. NAEC therefore also offers them housing.
Teaching through practice
Part of the Afghan management and lecturers who established NAEC have followed a programme in Wageningen. The teaching methods at NAEC are new in Afghanistan, tells Van Otterloo. ‘Traditionally, the focus has always been on a one-sided transmission of theoretical knowledge. NAEC pays a lot of attention to teaching through practice, didactics and interaction between the lecturer and students. Independent evaluations carried out in 2015 and 2016 showed that the students, lecturers and agricultural high schools are very enthusiastic about this approach’, says Van Otterloo.
Outdated school books
Between 2011 and 2016, the Netherlands had allocated 21.6 million euros for the establishment of the agricultural vocational education in Afghanistan. Most of that money went to NAEC, the building, the surrounding on-campus farm and other facilities. Practical teaching material for the 180 agricultural high schools was also developed, as these schools worked with school books dating from more than 40 years ago. When needed, the NAEC also provides the agricultural schools with tables, chairs, simple farming tools and basic laboratory equipment.