On 1 June, CAPS hosted Dr.Bohdan Krawchenko, Director General of University of Central Asia (UCA), and Hanif Padani, his afghan colleague from Agha Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Afghanistan, for a luncheon. Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Director of CAPS, and Mujib R. Abid represented Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies (CAPS). Topics discussed were potential areas of cooperation namely for CAPS’s YPMEC to replicate and incorporate non-degree programs of UCA in its curriculum, areas for the Afghan government to cooperate, and operations of Agha Khan Development Network (AKDN).
University of Central Asia, an international university, was founded in 2000 as a result of a multilateral treaty between Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan along with the Agha Khan Foundation. His Highness Agha Khan serves as its chancellor. It has many extensive programmes including a faculty development program (42 PhD students prepare in western schools), a pre-degree development program that prepares students for employment and post-school life (58 thousand students since 2006 has graduated from this program in 3 countries), it publishes books that are locally sound and feasible, and aims to redefine university philosophy in the region by taking the schools to the rural areas instead of the capitals. UCA will officially launch its degree programs in 2016, opening the first campus in Kyrgyzstan.
Mujib Abid, CAPS researcher, introduced Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies and its various programs including research projects, capacity building, legal program, and education programs. Then, Mr Karzai spoke extensively about Youth Peace Movement and Empowerment Centre (YPMEC) as a rather similar program to UCA. YPMEC, much like UCA, brings education to secondary places and prepares the youth for after-school life, forms networks for the youth, and provides concord preparation, IT, and English language courses along with short-term courses that includes conflict mediation, human rights, rule of law, and peace studies. He talked about success rate and the continuing efforts by CAPS to ensure larger number of students are enrolled in universities across the country.
Dr.Krawchenko believes the IT program, an extensive and internationally certified program, could be replicated as a test case by the YPMEC. Other areas including accounting courses, SME programs, language programs and vocational courses could also be explored, a gesture that was appreciated by Mr Karzai. UCA Director General also promised to invite Mr. Karzai for a visit to one of the UCA campuses.
Mr.Karzai was also keen to know how the Afghan government could work together with AKDN to ensure such programs were introduced to an Afghan population at a wider level. Mr.Padani provided answers including Afghan institutions that AKDN work with now and ways to start a channel of communication. Contact information and POCs were exchanged.
And lastly, CAPS wanted to see if AKDN as one of the leading development organizations could expand its work to other areas of Afghanistan as well. At the moment AKDN has mainly focused the scope of its operations in three provinces: Bamyan, Badakhshan, and Baghlan.