March 2011 - Information and communication technology (ICT) plays a major role towards educating and preparing youth for employment opportunities. There is a huge demand for educated youth with good ICT and spoken English skills in Afghanistan. Although there are many commercial outfits which provide ICT training, the costs of attending these courses are beyond the reach of most Afghan youth.
To train disadvantaged teenagers in Afghanistan with basic ICT skills, UNDP’s National Institution Building Project (NIBP) designed a programme called ICT4Youth with the Deputy Ministry of Youth Affairs (DMoYA). The key objective of NIBP is to develop comprehensive and sustainable capacities in government of Afghanistan. NIBP’s capacity development advisor worked with the deputy ministry through each stage of implementing the programme, including planning and designing courses, selecting teachers, screening students and monitoring the implementation of the programme.
“The classes are free of cost. This has enabled me to take this very beneficial training course,” says Humaira (pictured above, third from left), a high school student.
Students are trained by a qualified teacher for one hour every day in basic computer software and Internet skills. To prepare the students for future employment, the course also supports activities such as writing resumes, searching job vacancies, and preparing for interviews. The timing of the classes is such that school-going children can attend the training sessions without missing their regular school classes. Each trained student is given a certificate after successful completion of the six-month course by the DMoYA.
Why ICT4Youth works:
- Free courses with a preference to poor youth
- Safe and comfortable environment for female students and flexibility in bringing dependents, resulting in high female participation
- Class schedules suit school-going children
- Low cost, using pre-fabricated containers as classrooms, with computers and Internet connection provided for by UNDP
In the 2010, 300 young Afghans were trained free of cost under this programme. Due to the flexibility of the programme, nearly 40 percent of the students were girls. “The classroom environment of ICT4Youth programme is safe and comfortable, so my family does not object to my attending these classes,” says Humaira. Another female student, Zarmina, regularly brings her nephew to classes so that she can watch him. In the first half of 2011, 400 students have already signed up for the training sessions.
Samira, in her early 20s (pictured, second from left, who works in the Ministry of Interior, had never had a chance to take a similar course before. She’s developed her IT and English skills so much that now, she says, “I train a group of employees in the Ministry.”
Education of the youth is central to developing sustainable capacities in the country. ICT4Youth is a simple but progressive initiative started by UNDP’s NIBP and now adopted by other donor organizations supporting DMoYA, which feeds this very basic requirement for capacity development in Afghanistan. The words of Diogenes Laertius are befitting here:
‘The foundation of every state is the education of its youth’
The National Institution Building Project works to build robust government institutions and support sustainable capacity development in the Afghan Civil Service. The project strengthens national institutional capacity and works to create an efficient and capable public sector workforce through the development of institutions and civil service at the national and sub-national levels, the establishment of accountability mechanisms and effective utilization of resources for better service delivery. NIBP is supported by the governments of Australia, Canada, India, Italy, South Korea, and Switzerland.