Afghan professors partner with Ball State

The Daily News

Higher education instructors from Afghanistan’s Shaikh Zayed University came to speak Tuesday about the progress their country has made in education as a result of a partnership with U.S. universities, including Ball State.

In a $1.2 million program funded by the U.S. Department of State, Ball State and three other U.S. universities have partnered with five Afghanistan universities to improve each university’s journalism curriculum.

 The goals of the universities in Afghanistan are to become modernized, improve journalism education through enhanced teaching methods and technology, and improve their English language skills so that instructors and graduates can compete on a world scale.

Mohammad Khan Niazai, an instructor at Shaikh Zayed University, spoke of the repercussions of the Soviet invasion.

“We lost everything after our fight with Russia,” he said.

Fellow instructor Hadi Ur Rahman told of several things that have improved since then. 

“Twelve years ago, schools were closed for girls and universities were closed to women. Today we do not have that discrimination,” he said. “Twelve years ago we only had one radio station broadcasting Taliban propaganda, papers had no photos, and television was forbidden. Now there are six television networks.” 

The country has only recently been able to connect with the world in the last few years and its citizens are enthusiastic to take advantage of this newfound ability. 

Master Wahidi said visiting campus is an experience they will not forget.

“Our being here gives us ideas. We learned a great deal from Ball State professors,” he said. “We will take that home with us.”

Instructor Naqibullah Atish was surprised by Ball State’s emphasis on giving students an education beyond four years of listening to lectures.

“We will go back and include internships in our curriculum,” he said.

Their time in Muncie, however, has been more than just a learning experience in journalism education, but also an exposure to American culture. 

Niazai was particularly surprised by religious practices that are not common in Afghanistan. 

“One thing here is children having a different religion than their parents,” he said.

One student was curious to know what opportunities there are for women in journalism and in higher education. 

Wahidi said progress has certainly been made in the last decade, but that the extent of opportunities for women depends on the region they reside in. 

“It’s better in cities but outside in rural areas there are fewer women playing prominent roles,” he said. “Not because of discrimination but because of a lack of security in walking from their homes to school and back.” 

Rahman was quick to explain the progress women’s rights has made in the country.

“Each province must have two female representatives,” he said.

Junior telecommunications major Kate Shaffer has friends from Afghanistan and wasn’t aware of the large role women played in politics. 

“I didn’t know about the involvement of women in government and I thought that was amazing,” she said.

There are also issues in the education system. The government in Afghanistan pays for the education of every citizen including tuition, housing, food and books. It is viewed as a right for each citizen to earn a bachelor’s degree. 

The universities, however, are understaffed and inexperienced. 

Niazai said that the majority of journalists are unprofessional but that people are still recognizing them for their efforts.

“The government is taking journalism seriously,” he said

The partnership between universities in both countries will continue for more than a year, and will continue to assist the growing journalism field in one of the world’s youngest democracies.


More from The Daily

This Week's Digital Issue

Loading Recent Classifieds...