Co-Create University Curriculum (AF0024)
Action Plan: Afghanistan Action Plan 2019-2021
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Ministry of Education
Support Institution(s): Ministry of labor, Independent Administrative and Civil Service Reform Commission, Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, IWA, AREU, Lawyers Association, International Experts , Private universities, Academia
Policy AreasEducation, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery, Sustainable Development Goals
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
Curriculum is one the fundamental pillars of higher education in the countries. Up to date curriculum is essential need of society.
Books and references being taught in the universities are impractical and outdated which do not fulfill the employability requirements and needs of our society. Current curriculum dose not replicate university students’ needs to have skilled human resources in Afghanistan and fulfill the requirements of job market. This problem has two negative impacts; first unidentified workforce market leads to unprofessional and incompetent human resources in the country. Second Afghanistan will remain vulnerable in the field of education. Therefore, current curriculum needs thorough revision to meet labor market needs and social conditions of Afghanistan.
What is the commitment?
Ministry of higher education is committed to bringing reforms in the curriculum in order to meet the workforce needs and fulfill demands of university graduates and current labor market of Afghanistan. Current curriculum will be reviewed in participation with lawyers network, Independent Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission to meet the labor market needs. This curriculum helps those university graduates to attain skills and capacity according to market requirements.
How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem?
This commitment has highlighted lack of skilled and capable human resources in Afghanistan. Implementation of this commitment will ensure to penetrate expert and effective human resources into the workforce market as per national, regional and international standards.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
This commitment will be implemented in partnership with different stakeholders such as academia, curriculum specialists, public and private sector representatives and international experts
This commitment is related to SGD’s goal no. 4
IRM Midterm Status Summary
11. Review and Develop Curriculum in Partnership with Curriculum Development Specialists, Academia, Researchers, CSOs, International Experts, Public and Private Sectors to Comply with Afghanistan’s Workforce Market
Ministry of Higher Education is committed to bringing reforms in the curriculum in order to meet the workforce needs and fulfill demands of university graduates and current labor market of Afghanistan. Current curriculum will be reviewed in participation with lawyers’ network, Independent Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission to meet the labor market needs. This curriculum helps those university graduates to attain skills and capacity according to market requirements.
This commitment has highlighted lack of skilled and capable human resources in Afghanistan. Implementation of this commitment will ensure to penetrate expert and effective human resources into the workforce market as per national, regional, and international standards.
- Form joint committee of curriculum development specialists, academia, researchers, CSOs, international experts, public and private sectors to coordinate on curriculum of higher education.
- Prepare curriculum revision operational plan (by the joint committee) for the year 2020.
- Review and develop curriculum for 20 fields (majors) through national plan of curriculum revision and development for the year 2020.
- Prepare curriculum revision operational plan (by the joint committee) for the year 2021.
- Review and develop curriculum for 10 fields (majors) through national plan of curriculum revision and development for the year 2021.
- Disseminate and publish the report of curriculum revision and development.
Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Afghanistan’s action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Afghanistan_Action-Plan_2019-2021_EN.pdf.
IRM Design Report Assessment
This commitment aims to develop a new higher education curriculum in Afghanistan through a multistakeholder process. The main objective is to enhance the quality of Afghanistan’s higher education graduates by focusing on skills and capabilities that could fulfill the demands of the job market.
The Ministry of Higher Education leads the implementation of this commitment. It will collaborate with the Ministry of Labor, the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission, the Human Rights Commission, and the Ministry of Education. Other collaborators include professional associations, universities, members of the academic community, researchers, experts, and civil society groups such as Integrity Watch Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit.
The Law on Civil Higher Education mandates that each university be responsible for developing its own curriculum.  That curriculum is then submitted to the Ministry of Higher Education, where a commission of professors conducts a review.  However, there are no certain standards or quality assurance mechanisms to guide this process and ensure a diversity of programs offered or suitability to the needs of the job market. According to a review of Afghanistan’s higher education system published by the World Bank in 2013,  the current curricula do not offer adequate choices for students—a problem that remains today. 
Efforts to reform higher education curricula started recently, in 2017.  In the status quo, departments in universities make changes to their curricula on an ad hoc basis, without following any standards. This commitment aims to establish a standard in the hope of improving the quality of curricula and enhancing the suitability of graduates for the job market. In line with the World Bank’s review, the Ministry of Higher Education also acknowledges that there are shortcomings in how the curricula cater to the needs of the job market.  In addition, a civil society representative has expressed concerns over the prevalence of theoretical programs and lack of field research programs in the higher education system. 
Formally, there are no provisions for the role of civil society in the review of higher education curricula. However, the Ministry of Higher Education has attempted to embrace civil society groups’ role in the process. An official from the ministry noted that the presence of civil society representatives has been useful in emphasizing the importance of a student-centered and skill-based curriculum. 
This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of civic participation. It aims to formalize the participation of civil society in curriculum review process, mainly to ensure that the process is transparent and accountable. By doing so, civil society will have a more substantial role, as their consultation will no longer be optional but a formal part of the process.  It is also important to underline that civil society participation could bring more diverse perspectives to the process. 
If fully implemented as written, this commitment is expected to have a minor potential impact on improving the skills and capacity of the workforce in Afghanistan.
This commitment marks a positive, yet incremental, step in the right direction by opening up opportunities for a multistakeholder process in reviewing higher education curricula. However, it is unlikely, by itself, to solve the problems described in the action plan, which include economic impacts and suitability for the job market. Furthermore, there is precedence, albeit informal, for civil society participation in the curriculum review process. Therefore, the focus on formalizing civil society participation without clear further agendas for higher education reform falls short of the overall ambition captured in this action plan.
Going forward, the government could consider expanding the scope of this commitment to address the problem from a more systematic and structural point of view. The government could first conduct a baseline study to identify the clogs in the higher education system that influence the lack of competencies and suitability for the job market. For example, the World Bank’s review highlights the importance of qualified, skilled, and motivated academic staff,  as well as continued improvement of learning and teaching approaches. 
While the structuring of curricula has a significant impact on the quality of higher education programs, it is important to recognize that it acts with factors that are interdependent. For instance, lack of diversity among teaching staff could result in lack of innovations in approaching how a curriculum is developed. In other words, the mismatch between higher education programs and the job market can be tackled only through a massive restructuring of the higher education system. Such a restructuring would include a review of laws, other regulations, and hiring policy; partnership programs between universities and potential employers; capacity-building initiatives; and so on.
Additionally, the government could encourage universities to develop a career tracing system for graduates. That way, universities could collect data on how each graduate performs upon completion of their studies and during their career development. This data could be useful in measuring the effectiveness of the curricula offered by each university and could inform government policy.
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