Providing hope and future to Afghanistan through online/onsite education
07 February 2014

Staff and neighbours admiring the new Herat Technical Institute just before its inauguration
Interestingly, it is the first of its kind in Afghanistan, for implementing both blending learning and green computing together.
Herat, 7 February 2014 - Since 2005, JRS Afghanistan has been consistent in building capacity of young men and women of Afghanistan through its well-designed programmes in teacher training, technical and vocational skills, and peace building. As a continuation of its effort to strengthen in Afghanistan, now it has taken an ingenious initiative to harness digital technology to build workforce development as well as to increase access to quality higher education. In partnership with Jesuit Commons:Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM), a global network of Jesuit higher education institutions, an intensive English as Foreign Language (EFFL) course is specially offered at Herat Technical Institute, Herat, Afghanistan, from November 2013 to February 2014. It will be accredited by Georgetown University and/or St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata.

This online/onsite EFL course is offered as the first Community Service Learning Track (CSLT) of JC:HEM. It consists of 180 hours of instructions coupled with activities for developing four basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing at a high beginner’s level. Some of the activities include participating in role plays, group discussions, online interaction with native speakers, online discussion forums, language tutoring software, small research projects, multimedia presentations using self-made audio-video clips, and other electronic assignments. 

The curriculum of this particular course is developed by Bennet Lindauer, a faculty at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA., and is monitored by Orville de Silva, the JRS’ onsite course facilitator. Orville de Silva will also function as the main onsite English Language Trainer.  He will be assisted by two qualified local resource persons, Anbari for English language skills and Rafi for Computer Technical skills. Besides the constant support of Prem Kumar, the Director of JRS Afghanistan Director and the JRS onsite team, the EFL CSLT will be coordinated by the JRS-JC:HEM South Asia Coordinator for Online Education. It will be evaluated twice by a competent person one during the course and the other at the end of the course.

The target group for this EFL course is a select group of 55 economically and socially most disadvantaged Afghan youth who were part of the JRS’ English Language Preparatory Programme held at Herat Technical Institute (HTI), Herat, Afghanistan. There are 30 girls and 25 boys. The students were selected through a rigorous three-phased-selection process of written, oral and aptitude tests. It is important to mention that the JRS’s preparatory English Programme played a vital role in preparing students for this intensive JC:HEM’s online/onsite CSLT. In the first week of the course, the students were already oriented to the structure and learning objectives of the course, policies concerning academic honesty, attendance, and participation, and evaluations methods.

Interestingly, it is the first of its kind in Afghanistan, for implementing both blending learning and green computing together. On the front of blended learning, it combines online learning management systems of e-Learning with onsite coaching of traditional face-to-face instructions and interactions to develop communication skills in English language. In the case of green computing, a computer lab equipped for 30 users is set up with just desktop computers networked with several energy-saving virtual space N-computing devices.

This innovative pioneering effort by JRS cum JC:HEM will definitely unlock the gates of knowledge and will provide a sense of hope and future to marginalised section of people in Afghanistan.

Press Contact Information
Stan Fernandes SJ
+91 11 4310 4661; +91 11 4953 4106