Improving Access to Learning Resources at Teacher Training Colleges
Why Learning Resources?
Most Afghans live in rural areas, where access to information is limited. This is compounded for females given cultural norms that restrict their mobility. The barriers women face in accessing information adversely impact the professional development of female students and instructors at Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs). Gender segregation and inequitable access to resources sustain women’s isolation, denying them opportunities to grow professionally. In turn, this hampers the capacity of female teachers to improve girls’ educational outcomes, when Afghan girls face multiple barriers to obtaining a quality education.
While digital literacy is increasing in Afghanistan, it remains low among women, who are also less likely to have Internet access. Women cannot access digital literacy opportunities with the same ease as men (such as via Internet cafes). As the Afghan teaching force becomes increasingly female, it is imperative that women teachers get connected and gain digital literacy, so that they can use their access to information to grow their knowledge and become model teachers. Similarly, having access to books at a library on campus is critical, so that future teachers have knowledge resources at their fingertips while they are learning the subjects they will teach and the methods by which they will teach them.
How We Help
The establishment of computer labs by the Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE) in many TTCs, where most students are now female, presents an opportunity. While these labs are not Internet-connected and most TTCs do not have computer instructors, our team has been working with the TTCs to use these labs to increase access to information by TTC students and faculty. We install the offline version of our digital library of knowledge resources, Darakht-e Danesh, DDL Lite, into networked computer labs. We also establish or upgrade the libraries in the teacher colleges, and we assist the TTCs to establish policies and procedures to effectively manage libraries. In turn, graduating teachers understand the value of libraries, bringing this with them to the schools where they will teach.
Learning Resources for TTCs: This project, part of the Fanoos Teacher Education program, is equipping teacher colleges with modern libraries, training the colleges to manage those libraries, supporting their computer labs by installing either DDL Lite, the offline version of our digital library for teachers, or by connecting the colleges to the Internet, so they can access the full version of the library, and more. These activities help make stimulating, supportive learning environments for young women and men training to become teachers in Afghanistan.
Highlights of Results To Date
- DDL Lite was installed in Panjshir and Mazar (Balkh) TTCs in 2019. These colleges were also provided with the required IT equipment including the server computer, switch, network cable and PDU).
- DDL Lite was installed in the Nangarhar, Parwan, Kandahar and Bamyan TTCs in 2017, and then upgraded in 2019.
- Internet connectivity was installed in four TTCs (Parwan, Nangarhar, Bamyan and Kandahar), with service coverage for a period of 12 months, after which CW4WAfghan arranged for the service charges to be taken over by the Ministry of Education under their regular operational budget.
- A two day training, Open Educational Resources and DDL, was developed and delivered to 40 participants (35 students and 5 teachers) in each of six TTCs for a total of 240 participants.
- CW4WAfghan carried out a library needs assessment at six TTCs. A list of 200 titles in different subjects were purchased for these TTCs’ libraries, in coordination with the General Directorate of Teacher Education. The books arrived at the TTCs in June 2019.
- CW4WAfghan produced a librarianship training manual for TTCs, in English, Dari and Pashto and delivered a five-day Librarianship and Reading Promotion training for the librarians of 13 TTCs (Kabul, Parwan, Panjshir, Kandahar, Mazar, Bamyan, Faryab, Khost, Nangarhar, Laghman, Herat, Takhar and Badakhshan), two staff of General Directorate of Teacher Education, in Kabul in June 2019. The training was also joined by two library staff from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) and the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan (ASA), partners to our digital library (DDL), as well as audited by a guest trainee from War Child Canada. CW4WAfghan will continue to work with each of the teacher colleges to develop their library management systems.
Librarianship and Reading Promotion workshop: a group activity to learn about cataloguing and classifying books