One country - one generation - one future ?!

Scholarship programmes for young Afghan students

With 17, Sayed (20) worked night shifts for 8 months to help improve his family's low income after his father's death. During the day he went to school. Sara (18) worked as a volunteer during her high school days, teaching free English classes to students who could not afford those. When she wanted to go to university after finishing high school, her family expressed concerns: as a girl, it was unfavourable to study. The costs were too high.

These two young Afghans share a common conviction, namely, that education is key to combating the precarious security conditions, the disregard for human rights and the poor economic situation in Afghanistan. After all, education gives better job prospects, thus contributing to reducing poverty. Sayed and Sara are examples of the many young people in Afghanistan who have a vision for the reconstruction of their country and who see themselves as active designers of a better future.

Background

In the 1960s, Afghanistan was at its economic peak due to foreign investments. Even the Afghan educational system flourished: Many schools opened in the larger cities and the proportion of male and female students was balanced (MGFA, 2009). However, almost ten years of Soviet occupation (1979-1989) and the resistance movement of the Islamic groups (mujahedeen) resulted in brutal fighting that killed or displaced millions of people and destroyed the economy and the educational system (MGFA, 2009). After the Taliban seized power, a new school system based on radical Islamic ideas was introduced in 1996. Education for girls and women was simply prohibited. The new madrasas prioritized the religious teachings of Islam. Apart from that, they only taught simple literacy and numeracy skills (MGFA 2009). Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the situation has improved. Nevertheless, in 2011, 70% of the population was still illiterate (BMZ, 2011), an intellectual elite does not exist (MGFA, 2009). Almost all institutions for higher education have to be rebuild and demand exceeds supply: In the last four years about 200.000 high school graduates waited in vain for a place to study (Goethe Institute, 2014; TAZ, 2014). Additionally, many families are not able to pay for an university education. Therefore, it is not surprising that many potentially qualified people migrate.

The good deed

Young Afghans are dreaming of escaping war and poverty, of developing themselves personally and of contributing to the reconstruction of their country. Studieren ohne Grenzen Deutschland e.V. helps them to realize their dreams. Committed students from the University of Herat, the second largest city in Afghanistan, are awarded university scholarships. The monthly subsidy of 75 € covers most of the living expenses of Afghan students and costs such as bus fares, writing material and books. Most fellows would not have the opportunity to study without this support. Something special about the programme is, that the scholarship is linked to a social project, which is developed and initiated during the studies. Examples of such projects are teaching free English or computer classes or a blog about everyday health risks. Therewith, not only students benefit from our support, but other committed Afghans do too.

Challenges

There are many challenges. First of all, we have to overcome a distance of more than 4700 km. Fellows and their supervisors try to bridge this distance via Skype and e-mail. Additionally, Studieren ohne Grenzen Deutschland e.V. cooperates with the vice director of the University of Herat and the German organization "Help – Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe e.V.", based in Herat. In that way our students do have a local contact person and we do get more information about the situation in Herat.

How can we ensure that the money of our donors is spent effectively by the fellows? Besides carefully selecting our students, we also have regular discussions on Skype with them and they hand in a written report to us every three months about the progress of their social projects and their studies.

Ambition

Necessity
Activity
Countable output

After around 7 months

Result

After around 3 years

Systemic effect

After around 7 years

Access to education and financial support for Afghan students.
Studieren ohne Grenzen Germany supports young Afghans in need during their studies and the implementation of a social project.
Number of scholarships funded and people reached through the implementation of the social projects.
The fellows were able to progress in their studies, have started with their social projects and achieved first results.
Increased personal initiative of motivated and educated young Afghans to work for the reconstruction of their country.

 

Initiative Transparente Zivilgesellschaft