Training the Next Generation of Youth Entrepreneurs, Central AsiaIncreasing employment opportunities and cross-border cooperation in Afghan and Tajik Badakhshan
Project areas: Education
Youth across Central Asia face limited employment opportunities. Yet there is an increasing demand for high quality and relevant post-secondary vocational and technical education opportunities. This is especially true in the Badakhshan regions of Tajikistan and Afghanistan where AKF USA, along with USAID, supports the University of Central Asia’s School for Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) in Khorog, Tajikistan through the Cross-Border Vocational Education program in Badakhshan (CVEB).
CVEB seeks to increase employment opportunities in Afghan and Tajik Badakhshan and to improve cross-border cooperation between the two provinces. An extensive labor market survey of both Tajik and Afghan Badakhshan has also allowed CVEB to develop courses and materials that specifically address the needs of employers in the cross-border region.
CVEB uses mostly original curricula and learning resources since local-language materials currently do not exist for vocational education programs in Central Asia. The program adapts materials to the learning needs of its students by translating and developing new learning materials for Afghan students. This process of developing materials in the Afghan language of Dari is an important undertaking for UCA, as it both facilitates student learning and represents a significant contribution to the standardization of professional vocabulary and ideas in Dari.
More than 570 prospective students traveled to Faizabad from throughout Afghan Badakhshan in October 2011 to apply for the 50 available CVEB scholarships for January 2012, showing the strong demand and excitement for educational opportunities. Students came from remote areas such as the Wakhan Corridor and one group of five students walked for a week from Darwaz to reach Faizabad for the examinations.
Since May 2011, CVEB has graduated 89 Afghan students. An initial alumni survey showed that within four months of graduation, 75% of graduates were employed or are now continuing their education, many of them with follow-up courses at SPCE. CVEB also works closely to involve female students in its vocational courses – for 2012, 32% of Afghans receiving scholarships under CVEB are women. CVEB is a program that specifically works with youth in the Badakhshan region – 83% of the 2012 scholarships went to students between the ages of 19 and 25.
During 2012, CVEB will fund a total of 70 additional scholarships for Afghans to pursue basic and advanced courses in the areas of English, information technology and accounting as well as 14 scholarships for Tajik learners. Many of CVEB’s 2012 graduates will help teach other vocational education students. CVEB is helping to expand learning facilities as well as teaching capacity for vocational education in northern Afghanistan.The long-term impact of CVEB will be improved quality of professional and vocational teaching in the Badakhshan region, as well as increased cross-border cooperation between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.