Civil Society Monitoring Plan for Education and Higher Education (AF0009)
Action Plan: Afghanistan Action Plan 2017-2019
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) and Ministry of Education (MoE)
Support Institution(s): Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and the Disabled, and Ministry of Public Health, Relevant CSOs, education/higher education-related unions and other interested organizations
Policy AreasEducation, Oversight of Budget/Fiscal Policies, Public Service Delivery, Subnational
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?: Existing reports and evidence show that service delivery in education and higher education sector does not meet the people’s demand and requirements of the job market. In addition, service delivery in these sectors is poor and low-quality.
Statistics and figures indicate that half of the existing students in the country are pursuing their higher studies in private universities and institutes of higher education. The government and the private sector are main education service delivery institutions where lack of transparency and quality is seen within both public and private sector.
According to the assessments, people, Civil Society, private sector, non-governmental organizations have collaborated with MoHE and MoE in long-term and strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation of their activities and projects, identifying challenges, and providing solutions in education and higher education sectors; but these collaborations are not satisfactory.; What is the commitment?: In order to address the abovementioned challenges, MoHE and MoE have decided to develop and approve a plan for civil society oversight over transparency and quality of education and higher education, in consultation with Civil Society and other relevant institutions.
The plan will enable the civil society and its stakeholders to monitor how education and higher education related services are delivered. Oversight by civil society will ensure transparency in education and higher education service delivery and improve their quality in Afghanistan.; How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?: Civil Society and non-governmental institutions’ participation will enable them to further engage in design and devising of long-term plans and identifying existing challenges within education and higher education’s programs and to provide realistic solutions in order to solve them. As CSOs, in the past, were contributing with education and higher education institutions and shared their consultations in formulation of the education and higher education sectors’ strategic plans, CSOs participation will be included within the plans of both ministries and facilitated through development councils in Citizen Charter program, getting membership to leading committees of strategic plan implementation and other programs of the two ministries. Both MoHE and MoE are interested in CSOs active participation for ensuring transparency and quality in education and higher education service delivery.
A committee (National Oversight Committee) composed of representatives from MoHE, MoE, public and private education institutes, and civil society will be established as the first step to implement this commitment. The committee will be responsible to draft the monitoring mechanism to improve transparency and quality in education service delivery. Once drafted, the mechanism will be shared with CSOs during consultative meetings for their feedbacks. The mechanism will be finalized after incorporation of comments from CSOs and the stakeholders. Finally, the mechanism will be submitted for approval to the relevant entities.
Implementation of this commitment will enable civil society to be involved in developing the oversight plan through presenting their insights and concerns with regards to education\higher education service delivery, and to improve transparency and quality in education/higher education delivery through implementing the oversight plan. This will ensure transparency and improved quality in education/higher education service delivery.; Why is the commitment relevant to OGP values?: This commitment has relevancy with public participation and transparency, because CSOs will be involved in developing the oversight plan and will maintain oversight on education/higher education service delivery, which in turn, will bring about transparency in related service delivery.; Additional information: This commitment will be funded jointly by MoHE and MoE.
This commitment is consistent with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: Quality Education.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
9. Developing and Implementing Civil Society Oversight Plan for Transparency and Quality of Education and Higher Education
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:
“Existing reports and evidence show that service delivery in education and higher education sector does not meet the people’s demand and requirements of the job market. In addition, service delivery in these sectors is poor and low-quality.
In order to address the abovementioned challenges, MoHE and MoE have decided to develop and approve a plan for civil society oversight over transparency and quality of education and higher education, in consultation with Civil Society and other relevant institutions.
The plan will enable the civil society and its stakeholders to monitor how education and higher education related services are delivered. Oversight by civil society will ensure transparency in education and higher education service delivery and improve their quality in Afghanistan.Milestone activities and verifiable deliverables
- MoE and MoHE establish a National Oversight Committee [NOC] for the Transparency and Quality of Education and Higher Education with specific ToR. The committee will consist of representatives of MoE, MoHE, public and private education institutes, and civil society.
- The NOC will develop a holistic monitoring mechanism that will provide oversight taking the form of community monitoring and student satisfaction survey assessing the quality of teaching in education and higher education institutes.
- NOC establishes 4 subnational monitoring committees in Balk, Herat, Kandahar and Nangarhar. NOC will provide an orientation for the 4 subnational monitoring committees in Kabul.
- Community Monitoring at the level of primary education will be conducted in the capital of five provinces, including Kabul through a sub-national monitoring committee that will be developed based on the holistic monitoring mechanism created by NOC, representing its subnational arm. NOC will be conducting the community monitoring in Kabul itself.
- A student satisfaction survey at the level of higher education in 5 provinces, including Kabul will be conducted by NOC and the sub-national monitoring committees. The findings of the survey will be publicized.
- The findings of community monitoring and student satisfaction survey will be published individually and disseminated by NOC to all relevant stakeholders.”
Start Date: January 2018 End Date: August 2019
Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text from the Afghanistan National Action Plan see: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/commitment/09-civil-society-monitoring-plan-education-and-higher-education
Context and Objectives
The aim of this commitment is to establish a National Oversight Committee for Transparency and Quality of Education and Higher Education (NOC) where CSO’s will play an important consultative and monitoring role in order to ensure transparency and increase the quality of education and higher education in Afghanistan.
Low quality education in Afghanistan throughout the 12-year school cycle affects both students’ entry to higher education institutions as well as access to job markets.  Some factors contributing to the low quality of education can be attributed to schools’ inability to complete the syllabus and finish textbooks as well as teachers’ lack of academic qualification and experience.  According to a survey conducted among students of higher education (computer science) primarily in the province of Herat, 70% of participants responded that their school education had not academically prepared them for an entry to higher education, which in turn would affect their access to job market. 
Arguably, a dramatic jump in quantity, could not translate to the same results in quality. After the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, 2.3 million children were enrolled in schools. By 2008, the number jumped to 6.2 million, of which 36% were girls.  Likewise, the higher education sector saw a dramatic demand and enrollment increase since 2002. In 2009-2011, the Afghan government had an acceptance capacity for 30,000 students whereas the actual demand was 250,000. Therefore, since 2002, Afghanistan, like its neighboring country Pakistan, became a hub for private education and higher education institutions. Currently,130 private higher education institutions exist across Afghanistan, of which 24 constitute universities and the rest are colleges and other higher education institutions.  Nevertheless, the expansion of the education sector did not coincide with an equal improvement in education quality. Afghanistan’s educational system remains fragile and prone to corruption. In 2014, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported imaginary enrollments and schools, stating that as much as USD750 million of U.S. financial aid might have been wasted.  The Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE) rejected SIGAR’s claim, nevertheless confirming that their reports showed that 524 school buildings were left unfinished, despite the full amount of money having been paid to the construction company. 
In order to ensure transparency and increase the quality of education and higher education in Afghanistan, MoE and Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE)  have decided to establish NOC in Kabul, with four sub-national committees in provinces with regional importance and better security and accessibility. Moreover, the commitment aims to develop and implement community monitoring mechanisms and student satisfaction survey.
This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of Civic Participation because of the central role of CSOs in the process and the monitoring committees to be developed. It is also relevant to Access to Information because it entails the component of information dissemination through the publication of the survey findings. Overall, the commitment’s activities and milestones are specific enough to be verifiable though some points require more detail (e.g., specifics on the composition and terms of reference of the National Oversight Committee, how the community monitoring would be standardized).
The IRM Researcher considers the potential impact of this commitment to be moderate, with potential to become transformative in its implementation and in the next OGP-A action plan for continuation if it develops a component with public accountability where citizens, particularly students (i.e., the community that would be monitoring education quality), can convey their complaints and concerns. With respect to the assessment of moderate potential impact, this is the first time CSOs will play an oversight role over the transparency and quality of education and higher education in Afghanistan, speaking to its importance. One CSO representative stated that until now most of the recruitments in the educational sector, such as those of teachers or school principals, have been carried out based on favoritism and nepotism; that they were embittered with corruption and, as CSO’s, could no longer accept it.  Through the OGP process, he stated, they could stay connected with the central government and could more easily convey their needs and demands.  Another CSO representative remarked that through OGP-A, the participation of CSOs in monitoring educational sector attainment could become more formal. 
The IRM Researcher suggests that this commitment should be prioritized and continued in the next action plan. To that end, the IRM Researcher suggests the following:
- It is important to assess whether CSO’s have the technical capacity to fulfill their oversight role. Government officials interviewed by the IRM researcher raised this concern.  The next action plan could include providing training sessions to CSOs and relevant communities on how to fulfill their prescribed oversight role. As one government official pointed out, CSO’s seem to have some experience in the area of education, but little to no experience in higher education.  Best practices from other countries could inform the training sessions.
- The development of any future oversight mechanism/s and or ToRs should be conducted together with CSO’s, as opposed to seeking their feedback once mechanisms and ToRs have already been proposed.
- The information collected from community monitoring and surveys would benefit from being made available to the public via the websites of the MoE and MoHE as well as via the websites of CSO’s.
- The commitment could benefit from a public accountability component. For example, MoE and MoHE could develop a functional portal on their websites where the public can directly express their concerns, complaints and suggestions. A government and CSO’s team could actively respond to the public’s comments.
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