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College of Human Ecology

K-State Faculty Visiting Faculty Visiting Afghanistan in April to Identify Kabul University's Needs as Interdisciplinary Partnership Continues

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

MANHATTAN -- A delegation of Kansas State University faculty is planning a trip to Afghanistan in April as part of a continuing cooperative effort with Kabul University.

A large, multidisciplinary group of K-State faculty recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where faculty talked with various agencies about financing projects to rebuild and enhance the Afghan university.

The projects were met with interest and enthusiasm, and the April trip to Afghanistan is the next step in the process, said Yar Ebadi, dean of K-State's College of Business Administration.

The partnership will include curriculum development, fellowships and scholarships to promote student and faculty exchange programs, laboratory equipment and textbooks, and focused support for female students and faculty.

Ebadi said K-State faculty going to Afghanistan in April will talk with Amir Shah Assayer, the Afghan minister of higher education; Ashram Ghana Hamada, president of Kabul University; and other Afghan officials. The meetings will be essential in identifying the needs of Kabul University before K-State officials further pursue funding, Ebadi said.

"The needs are so great, I think they will welcome this project," said Ebadi, who is a graduate and former faculty member at Kabul University and an Afghanistan native. "The quality of education is a major concern, but the greatest need right now is qualified teachers."

In addition to crumbling buildings and programs needing restructuring, instructors often have nothing more than a bachelor's degree. And if those degrees were earned during the Taliban reign, Ebadi said, they don't mean much anyway.

"During the reign of the Taliban, there was no real education taking place in Afghanistan," he said. "Further, the lack of advanced degrees among faculty makes it challenging to offer master's and doctoral programs at Kabul University."

In many ways, Kabul University and K-State have a lot in common, Ebadi said. Following the framework of a comprehensive Western university, Kabul University offers an arts and sciences curriculum in addition to colleges of engineering, agriculture, education and veterinary medicine. One of the university's goals is to make English the primary language for instruction.

One way K-State could help Kabul University is with innovations in distance learning.

"We can reach from here to meet their needs," Ebadi said.

The strength of K-State's proposals, Ebadi said, is the university's comprehensive approach. Unlike other U.S. colleges and universities working with Kabul University, K-State's initiative involves disciplines throughout the university.

In the broader scope of the project, K-State plans to assist in the development of women's studies at the University of Afghanistan, a new private university in Kabul. K-State also is pursuing funding for technical assistance to Afghanistan and Tajikistan in the fields of agriculture, engineering, land-use planning and trade. In November 2005, Khamrokhon Zaripov, the Tajikistani ambassador, visited K-State for three days to explore areas of mutual interest. During the trip in April, K-State delegates will visit Tajikistan, as well as Afghanistan.

K-State's office of international programs coordinates K-State's Afghanistan initiative. Duane Nellis, K-State provost, and Ron Trewyn, vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School, joined seven K-State deans in contributing almost $60,000 to finance delegates' travel to Washington, D.C., and Central Asia.

In addition to Ebadi, members of the K-State delegation to Washington, D.C., were: Elizabeth Unger, vice provost for academic services; Ralph Richardson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine; Richard Hayter, associate dean of the College of Engineering; Lynn Ewanow, associate dean of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design; Steven Graham, assistant to the dean of the College of Agriculture; Briana Nelson Goff, assistant dean for academics, College of Human Ecology; Daryl Youngman, associate professor and assistant to the dean at Hale Library; Gay Youngman, serials acquisitions specialist at Hale Library; and Kenneth Holland, associate provost for international programs.

This article was posted on Wednesday, February 1, 2006, and is filed under College News.