In today’s world, all the affairs of life are depended on knowledge and modern sciences, and no human affairs can be run properly without science and technology. Also one of the innate inclinations or tendencies of mankind is truth searching, knowing facts, knowing oneself and the world, as well as knowing oneself and the others.
Furthermore, development in different spheres of world is achieved due to the development in education, and every country tries to progress in various fields. Afghanistan also needs to be a progressive country like other countries in the world.
Thus, if we want to build Afghanistan, we have to improve its educational system, particularly higher education system, because higher education is the milestone of all progressions in a country. So, we have to adopt new approaches, such as OBE, in our higher education system to make better the quality of our education. OBE is one of the very successful teaching approaches. Or in other words, Outcome Based Education is an educational approach which bases every part of an educational system around goals, and it emphasized that every teacher has to achieve the goal intended for each lesson. Thus, outcome based education states that every lesson must have a clear objective, and this learning outcome has to be shared with the learners during the class instruction. Also there must be alignment between outcome, instruction and assessment.
OBE, SCL Workshop
In recent years, Ministry of Higher Education of the country has opened an office by the name of Higher Education Development Program (HEDP) which operates to improve the quality of the education in public and private universities across Afghanistan. HEDP has been able to provide the opportunities of short term and long term programs for young afghan lecturers both inside and outside of the country to gain more knowledge and to develop their teaching skills. One of these programs is the basic and advanced OBE-SCL workshops which were launched both in Afghanistan and in Malaysia.
The first time I learned about OBE-SCL was in the workshop conducted by my two colleagues from February 4-9, 2017 in Kunduz University. I actively participated in the presentation they gave. Although the time of the workshop was short, l grasped, at least the general basic knowledge about what OBE covers. And I implemented some of its principles in my classes that proved to be useful. Also, I wrote a teaching portfolio based on which I was selected among my other colleagues from Kunduz University for interview to go to Malaysia to participate in Advanced OBE-SCL workshop. I did it well on both teaching portfolio and interview and was lucky to attend the Advanced OBE-SCL Seminar at UTM University Technology Malaysia from April 1 to 16, 2018.
This seminar was gorgeous. Out of many workshops that I have received in my teaching lifetime, this seminar was quite different. Its difference in comparison with other seminars was that more chance of speaking was given to the participants. Every participant was given enough time to speak. Even the participants were pushed to talk about certain topics, particularly, the presentation of demos by the participants the most interesting thing which I liked the most. Beside many significant things I gained from UTM professors, I also learned a lot of OBE and SCL concepts from Afghan lecturers’ demos. The OBE, SCL workshop encouraged me to review once again my syllabi, my lesson plans and my teaching methods. The OBE & SCL workshop was important because it taught me how to design a better course policy and set outcomes for the subjects I teach and to adopt student centered learning. In OBE & SCL workshop, I learnt how to set learning outcomes for my courses and lessons. It is significant to align learning outcomes, instruction and assessment in order to gain an effective result. I also learned that we have to design our curriculum according to the principles of OBE, and Integrate OBE approach in our PEO, PO, LO.
Also, after attending the workshop, I came to this conclusion that the job of a teacher is a facilitator; rather than, an authority in the classroom. Teacher has to set parallel between learning outcomes, teaching activities and assessment. First teacher should define clear goal for the lesson he gives, then he should make interesting activities for each lesson, and divide those activities into the book-end division technique. Finally the teacher should give assessment made to achieve the desired goal.
Similarly, I learned in the workshop that what I taught in the past was not an effective way of teaching, because there was not a clear goal for each lesson and each course I taught. I didn’t know what my students would do after they learn the lessons and upon their graduation. My students also didn’t know what they were expected to learn and expose, because everything was ambiguous. Now everything is clear for them from the beginning; they have the syllabus which clarifies both the job of teacher as well as the job of students in the teaching process.
Moreover, in the workshop I learned that the implementation of OBE and SCL in education has many benefits: it gives more accreditation and quality to the higher education system. Outcome-based methods and student centered learning have been adopted in education systems around the world, at multiple levels. Countries such as United States, Australia, and Malaysia have started and implemented OBE and SCL in their higher education that made their universities on the top of the world, and gave more accreditations to them. Therefore, by implementing OBE and SCL in Afghanistan, it will make the higher education system of Afghanistan more accredited and standardized.
My Commitment and Future Plan
Considering its importance, I planned to teach all my classes based on OBE and SCL. I do this by designing course and lessons outcomes. I must write clear goals for the subjects I teach and make a lot of activities for each lesson to implement the informal cooperative learning strategies. Then I will start to practice formal cooperative learning techniques. I will assess continuously my classes for continuous quality improvement. I want to follow OBE Approach because OBE will give me clear result every day what I teach. And the students will also be very satisfied for they know what they have learnt.
Also, after knowing the advantages of OBE approach, I will conduct again and again the same workshop that I received in UTM for my colleagues in my university in Afghanistan so that, on one hand, I master the knowledge and skills of OBE, and on the other hand, they should also benefit from the advantages of the seminar and become aware of the Outcome Based Education which is considered the most appropriate approach so far. I will convince all of lecturers to base their course policy and lesson plan on OBE and SCL and will tell them that OBE makes their teaching meaningful, and adjusts it with international standards.
Institutionalization of OBE in Afghanistan
We cannot implement OBE overnight; it takes a lot of time and efforts to apply it in Afghanistan’s higher education institutes where traditional approaches have been used from the past. We should practice OBE principles gradually in our universities, and start from easy principles to difficult: I mean we should start from those principles the implementation of which is easy, because implementing OBE needs resources, and we don’t have all those resources available in our institutes.
The next important thing is that Ministry of Higher Education should hire more lecturers in all Universities across Afghanistan so that the lecturers are not overloaded with the number of subjects they teach. Averagely, every teacher of a university teaches around 6 to 7 different subjects that cause them to apply traditional methods. Even though, they are familiar with the modern methods, they do not apply them, because teaching in practical method like OBE is time consuming.
Still another thing to institutionalize OBE in Afghanistan is that Ministry of Higher Education should send official letters to all universities’ Quality Assurance Committees and asks them to continuously check with the lecturers whether or not they apply OBE in their classes. The lecturers who apply it should be given applause certificates that recognize them as best teachers and those who do not apply it should be warned that they cannot get their tenure if they do not apply OBE in their classrooms.
To conclude, I should say that education is the infrastructure for all social, economic, cultural and political progressions. To build a country, we should build its education system. This system can be built when it is parred with international standards. Since knowledge is in change, the way of transferring knowledge is also changing. Traditional approaches which were practiced in the past proved that they are not useful anymore; we have to apply new approaches to respond to the Twenty First Century trends. One of these new approaches to teaching is OBE which proves to be a successful approach. This one has been used and practiced by many countries in world and gave a good result. Now Ministry of Higher Education of Afghanistan also wants to apply it in all universities, and luckily sent many young lecturers from all universities of the country to Malaysia to receive training as OBE champion to train their colleagues in their own university. I am also one of those trainers of OBE, attended the workshop from April 1 to 16, 2018 in UTM. This seminar was very useful. It totally changed my mind about teaching. After participating in the workshop, I have felt grown up as professional teacher.