Maryland Global Leaders Series: Higher Education and Rebuilding Afghanistan

On November 30, 2017, Afghan Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Hamdullah Mohib addressed University of Maryland faculty and students about the importance of higher education in Afghanistan and the process of rebuilding the country after four decades of war. Ambassador Mohib’s talk was part of the Maryland Global Leaders Series, a lecture program capitalizing on UMD’s neighboring Washington, DC to bring high-level diplomats, businesses, other international community leaders, and prominent visitors to College Park to share with the campus community their perspectives on vital global challenges and opportunities for international cooperation and global development.

The program commenced with introductory remarks by Dr. Ross Lewin, Associate Vice President for International Affairs at University of Maryland, followed by remarks from Ambassador Mohib. Tremendous progress has been made in regards to higher education in the past 16 years. In 2001, approximately 8,000 Afghans were studying in programs of higher education. Today, more than 300,000 students are attending these programs, 100,000 of whom are women. In 2016, the Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project, a program to deliver social services and basic infrastructure to all areas of Afghanistan, including rural areas. The deliverance of basic education is a tenet of this project. Ambassador Mohib spoke about the four decades of war that Afghanistan has experienced and how higher education has had a significant role in the rebuilding process. Increased specialization and a change in attitude about education has led to development and relative stability. A kind of stability which has allowed an Afghan robotics team of girls all under the age of 16 to travel to the United States and receive a Courageous Achievement Award at the First Global Competition in July 2017, and again to win the Entrepreneur Challenge at the biggest robotics festival in Europe earlier this week. 

As Afghanistan is historically a nation producing some of the world’s greatest intellectuals, philosophers, and poets including Rumi the Maulana, Afghan’s drive for education comes from a desire to return to such a country. While significant achievements have been made in regards to higher education, the government still faces challenges in reaching men and women in rural areas and is working on employment opportunities for graduates after completion of their studies.