Cooperation with Afghanistan: Graduation of Afghan Master Students
We are happy to share the news of the graduation of our third Master Group from Afghanistan. Moreover, Mohammad Haroon Asadi, one of the graduates, describes his experiences during the programme. On September 23rd, our third group of university lecturers from Afghanistan received their Masters degrees in Management and Economics from the Ruhr-University Bochum. After completing three semesters of coursework in Germany, a field research period of four months in Afghanistan, and five months of writing their Masters theses, 15 Afghans - thirteen males and two females - graduated in a festive ceremony on campus. All of them have since returned to Afghanistan to teach at their home universities. Our 15 lecturers from Afghanistan that successfully completed their Master in Economic and Management (photo: private) In the following one of the graduates, Mohammad Haroon Asadi, shares his experiences along the way to become a Master graduate.
Beginning at the Ruhr University Bochum
It was 2004, and I was a student at the Faculty of Economics at Balkh University when a team from the IEE came to my university to present their academic exchange programme between Balkh University and the Ruhr University Bochum. In fact, this was a kick-off event that inspired me to study hard in order to continue my studies abroad. However, reaching this target required as core conditions academic eligibility and being a lecturer at the Faculty of Economics. It took a while until I became a lecturer at the Faculty of Economics at Balkh University in 2010. In 2011, I enrolled in the bachelor upgrading programme. This training programme was compulsory for all Afghan economics lecturers who want to study at a graduate level at the RUB. At a first glance, it was simple; but all in all, it wasn't quite so easy. The training took one year, and there was gap of two years between the bachelor upgrading programme and the start of the master programme. This gap was exhaustive, but, ultimately, I finished my master program at the RUB in September 2016.
Impressions from Germany
Besides the regular courses at the RUB, I attended a German language class A.2.2, and now I can speak a little German. Being a student in Germany is a good opportunity for all Afghan students. For instance, the cost of study is not high and most of the students are entitled to discounts for food, transport, and sports. Personally, I really enjoyed doing sports at the university, studying in the library, and spending holidays with students gathered in dormitories. There were also wonderful festivals in Bochum and in other cities of NRW, like Carnival.
During our masters programme my colleagues and I were invited to meet the former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and German Federal President, A.D. Christian Wolf. The event was themed ‘‘Challenges in Afghanistan and the role of Germany in the world’’ and it was an open discussion for everyone to ask their questions about the future of Afghanistan and the role of Germany as a close international partner for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
In addition, we had an excursion to one of the interesting former coal industries in Zollverein in Essen. It was an amazing factory museum, but I also visited other coal museums in Germany. By visiting these museums, I learnt that if Germany is one of industrialized countries in the world today, it is because of the sacrifices that were made by their former generations. Thus, if Afghans want Afghanistan to be developed like Germany in the future, we will have to sacrifice ourselves for our next generation.
Furthermore, another development during my time in Germany was the immigration crises in Europe, especially in Germany. Thousands of Afghan refugees emigrated to Germany, which was an expected occurrence. Although the people of Germany welcomed them; however, it has some challenges as well. The impact of this crisis even affected all Afghan students who were studying in Germany. Some of them were in doubt about whether to return back to Afghanistan or to stay in Germany after finishing their studies. In fact, in my opinion, it is a destructive situation for human capital accumulation for Afghanistan. In particular, as regards the educated people who leave the country not because of security, but for economic reasons.
Outcome of the Study and Future Ambition
To my knowledge studying at the Ruhr University Bochum was very helpful, particularly, the programme which was organized by the Institute of Development Research and Development Policy (IEE) and funded by DAAD and World Bank for Afghan lecturers. For instance, I would like to point out the main outcomes of this programme. First; this program has a multiplication effect, as after returning back to Afghanistan I am teaching more than 500 students at Balkh University. In fact, I am transmitting the knowledge which I have learned. Second, I found good friends and colleagues from other universities at national level which I did not have before. Third, today we have formed a big economic network in the Ministry of Higher Education in Afghanistan. Finally, with technical support of IEE and funding by DAAD we have founded the Afghan Economic Society (AES). I hope that as a principle member, I can continue to develop my research projects in Afghanistan. I prefer not to stop at this academic level, but would like to continue my education with a PhD programme in Germany in the future. by Mohammad Haroon Asadi