College Returns to Afghanistan
team of Teachers College faculty and senior staff spent nearly
three weeks during the summer, working with an international
team of education experts from seven different countries developing
the capacity to write elementary curriculum and textbooks for
the Afghan Ministry of Education (MOE).
team was made up of professors Jane Monroe, Nancy Lesko,
Gregory Hamilton, Michele Genor, and Clifford Hill, and Barry
Rosen of the Office of External Affairs.
education to change the world is not new at TC. In its largest
international education project to date, Teachers College
spent 25 years in Afghanistan with funding from the United
States Foreign Aid Program, to help the Afghan Ministry of
Education create a modern educational system capable of preparing
the human resources necessary to participate in the community
of nations. The project accomplished a great deal. However,
the Soviet invasion of December 1979, the civil wars that
followed and the establishment of an authoritarian and fundamentalist
Taliban regime wiped out much of the benefits.
Teachers College, Columbia University (TCCU) team collaborated
with more than 100 Afghans from the MOE to facilitate the
translation of the Curriculum Framework (CF) into course
syllabi and textbooks.
a series of workshops, each member of the TCCU team made presentations
on topics such as thinking through curriculum development,
teacher leaders, student-centered math teaching, the development
of content-specific learning activities, integrating adult
literacy and early childhood education, among others. The TCCU
members were instrumental in facilitating two kinds of working
groups: in interdisciplinary groups team members worked to
develop conceptual frameworks for curriculum, different curricular
models, meaningful learning, and child-centered teaching; in
subject matter groups (art, language arts for three languages—Dari,
Pashto and English, math, science, social studies, life-skills,
Islamic studies, and technology) the team first decided on
the components of a good curriculum outline and participants
decided what would be the most useful model to be adopted for
all subject matter areas.
members spent four 10-hour days in subject matter groups
deliberating, debating, and drafting and redrafting the curricula
for grades 1 through 6. During this time there were quality
exchanges between the participants and the TCCU experts.
The last four days of the workshop were devoted to principles
of textbook writing, editing, and publishing. Models of textbooks
were presented, the criteria of content and format were explained,
and sample chapters were designed and written as a template
to guide their future work.
addition to the debriefing session at the end of the workshop,
the TCCU met at the end of each day to review and revise
the next day’s agenda to make it meaningful and relevant.
Most importantly, team members met with Mr. Hyatt, the new
Director General of Teacher Preparation for Afghanistan.
This meeting was held to establish relationships with key
stakeholders that could facilitate future possibilities.
Meetings with these stakeholders worked toward the possibility
of reestablishing the TCCU presence in Afghanistan through
the development of the National Academy of Education, with
the TCCU as the anchor partner along with the MOE and UNICEF.
agreed on, the goal of the National Academy of Education
is to institutionalize technical and policy assistance required
for sustained, long-term systems development, gender equality,
and continuous improvement in the quality of education in
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