• A new voice for teachers in Afghanistan

A new voice for teachers in Afghanistan

05 August 2015

In June, an important milestone for education in Afghanistan was reached when a delegation of teachers from across the country cast their ballots for the first ever National Teachers’ Elected Council.

The following report was published by WUSC (World University Service of Canada), a key partner in the formation of the National Teachers' Elected Council.

As part of a two day conference held in Kabul, 69 representatives from 23 provinces elected the Board to serve on the newly formed national council, in what was deemed to be a free and fair election. The National Teachers’ Elected Council (NTEC) will act as the voice for teachers throughout Afghanistan, advocating for teachers’ rights, securing their benefits, and providing opportunities for professional development. As a representative body, NTEC will work to improve the lives and working conditions of teachers by addressing the legal, economic and professional issues they face and by acting as a liaison between teachers and the Government of Afghanistan.

The long road to a National Teachers’ Elected Council

The movement to create a representative body for teachers began with the establishment of the Kabul Teachers’ Elected Council in May 2007. At that time, in the context of a teachers’ strike and demonstrations, the Ministry of Education (MOE) for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan provided an opportunity for teacher representatives to meet with MOE officials and discuss the issues. It was then decided that representatives should be elected so that they could better defend teachers’ rights and privileges, with an eventual goal of a national teachers’ organization.

The Kabul Teachers’ Elected Council has for over five years worked informally as a representative of Afghanistan’s teachers. Its members have spearheaded the efforts to form a national body through advocacy work, soliciting the support of non-governmental organizations in the process. The Teacher Certification and Accreditation of Teacher Training Institutions Project (TCAP), an initiative implemented by WUSC and funded by the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, played an instrumental role in moving this process forward. We collaborated with the Kabul Teachers’ Elected Council by sharing our broad global experience and technical expertise in developing teachers’ organizations and introducing the Council to another strategic partner, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA). In April 2014, in partnership with the SCA and the Kabul Teachers’ Elected Council, we signed a trilateral agreement which included a commitment to expand the Council to a national organization, receiving full endorsement from the MOE.

Work soon began on establishing teachers’ councils in other provinces. Once a critical number of the country’s provinces with organized Teacher Elected Councils was reached, it was determined that, from these provincial bodies, a national elected Board could be formed. A particular focus was placed on ensuring female participation in the NTEC leadership, with strong female candidates being encouraged to run in the elections. After many months of planning, our collective vision for a body that could represent the interests of all Afghanistan’s teachers was finally realized with the June 9th elections. Eight Board Members were elected to the Council, including one woman who was elected as Board Secretary.

Improving education for millions of youth in Afghanistan

With teachers making up one of the largest workforce groups in Afghanistan, the establishment of a representative body is an important step forward for the country’s education system. The Ministry of Education has both formally and informally supported this initiative, through which the government could address issues of concern. By collaborating with the NTEC and offering a space for open dialogue, the MOE has demonstrated the possibility of education policy-making that is participatory and inclusive.

By ensuring that teachers’ rights are protected in Afghanistan, we are also advancing the rights of students to quality education. Together, we are helping youth in Afghanistan realize their full potential - and that is something that benefits us all.

 

To view the original announcement and for further information about the WUSC and their Teacher Certification and Accreditation of Teacher Training Institutions Project (TCAP) , visit their website.