ARO OPENS THE TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION CENTER IN KABUL
ARO proudly opened the doors of the Technology Education Center (TEC) in Kabul, Afghanistan, in April 2003, during the Spring 2003 Relief Trip. The TEC is located in the Kabul University neighborhood, and has already begun classes in English, vocational and job-skill training. The TEC soon will provide computer education classes, teaching students basic computer use skills, along with computer repair and maintenance. Classes are available for young students and adults, and ARO hopes to initiate "teach the teacher" training, to create a network of technology proficient educators, who in turn will educate others.
The TEC project meets ARO's philosophy of providing opportunities that lead to jobs and self-sufficiency.
The TEC is located in a large two-story building, donated for ARO's use, and renovations were completed during the Spring 2003 Relief Trip. The TEC is an approximately 4000 square-foot multi-building structure with an interior courtyard, and can house four large classrooms for computer training, English classes, vocational training and a library area for a variety of resource books and materials (see photos in photo gallery). In June, a large conference / lecture room was built, and is already in use. Guesthouse accommodations are available nearby for visiting educators, and ARO welcomes those who wish to visit and offer their teaching skills.
ARO has distributed thousands of pounds of school supplies serving young school children, but the need for educational resources and tools for young adults and educators is great. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Comprehensive Needs Assessment report (July 2002) notes, "by any measure, the education system in Afghanistan has collapsed." The ADB estimates that 80 percent of school buildings have been destroyed, and that 13,851 schools will need to be constructed and an additional 43,500 teachers will be needed, a task "far beyond anything achieved, or attempted, in the history of Afghanistan." ARO is proud to offer this supplemental education center, while the Afghan educational system is being rebuilt.
The TEC will provide a small resource library for already collected books and materials, to which new materials will continually be added. Classrooms will be multipurpose in nature, and can serve a rotation of educators for a varied curriculum. With plans for Internet capability in the future, the TEC will assist student and teacher research projects, and allow educators to communicate with others around the world.
The ARO is procuring sewing and tailoring tools for vocational training. These skills are useful today in Afghanistan, and can preserve beautiful traditional craftsmanship for export. ARO already has received large quantities of fabric for classroom use by students. In addition to sewing and tailoring, ARO hopes to expand vocational training in other areas after local needs assessments are conducted.
The TEC will be one of the first technology centers in Afghanistan. In partnership with the Pangea Foundation (www.pangeafoundation.org) and World in Need International (www.winint.org), the TEC will provide computer classrooms and educators. Students will learn basic computer skills, how to disassemble and reassemble computers, and Internet skills. Educators can take these skills back to their classrooms and teach others. Students looking for employment will find new opportunities after becoming computer proficient.
TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION CENTER NEEDS
We are currently soliciting donations to help sustain the ongoing needs of the TEC. Contributors may donate actual equipment or funding for specific needs, however, some equipment can be purchased less expensively in the region (avoiding duty and shipping costs). The TEC needs include: teacher salaries (US$80 to US$100 per month), TEC two-member security staff (US$100 per month each), computers (US$400 in the region), generators (US$500 in the region), cable spools, printers, network equipment, power and extension cords, surge suppressors, LCD projectors, educational materials, satellite hookup (estimated US$20,000), and water well (estimated US$1,000 for drilling and development). Satellite hook up for Internet capability is rare and costly in Afghanistan; ARO hopes to open this door to the world for teachers' and students' research.
WHY DID ARO ESTABLISH THE TEC?
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Education For All 2000 Report reveals that Afghanistan's education indicators are among the worst in the world. The number of children, youth, and young adults whose education was disrupted since 1990 is conservatively estimated at eight to nine million. The Asian Development Bank's (ADA) July 2002 Comprehensive Needs Assessment report establishes goals of enrolling at least two million children by the year 2003, which leaves an overwhelming number whose educational needs are still unmet. The ADA also reports that the "production of new academically qualified teachers for the system will be limited in the immediate future because virtually al preservice teacher training institutions have been damaged or destroyed and have no current crop of students. As re-establishment of traditional teaching colleges will be costly and time-consuming, short-term measures for rapid training and deployment of potential teachers are critical."
Education centers, such as ARO's TEC, can provide expedient and practical training to facilitate employment and self-sufficiency among the youth and adult populations. The ARO-TEC also can be an additional training resource for the educators needed throughout Afghanistan. The future of Afghanistan lies in the education provided today.
"A revitalized education system can contribute significantly to resolving many of Afghanistan's daunting problems. Education is a key ingredient to rebuilding Afghanistan, igniting progress in all other development sectors. Education will build the human and social capital needed for economic development as well as serve as a key vehicle for promoting peace, stability and social cohesion. In short, it will help develop a sense of nationhood." Asian Development Bank, July 2002 Comprehensive Needs Assessment report.