Reflection Paper by Ahmad Omid Tawakkoli

I am Ahmad Omid Tawakkoli, Dean of Economics Faculty in Faryab University and a member of the OBE/SCL champions’ community in Afghanistan. I teach Microeconomics and Theory of Economic Development.

It was in early 2017 that I understood that Higher Education Development Program (HEDP) with collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) is offering an advanced training of Outcome Based Education (OBE) and Student Centered Learning (SCL) in Universiti Teknologiy Malaysia (UTM). It was a quite interesting news for me and I could not ignore this chance as I knew the training would have tremendous impacts on me as well on my fellow colleagues and students in Faryab University.

As per HEDP’s requirements for the selection process, I had to prepare a well-structured teaching portfolio in English language that would present me and my experience in higher education as well as my understanding of OBE and SCL and teaching plan for the modules I was teaching based on that understanding.

After submissions of the portfolio, I understood that luckily I had been selected for the face-to-face interview. Fortunately I could proceed further and got among the finalists who would travel to UTM for advanced ToT OBE/SCL workshop in Malaysia.

Worth mentioning that before joining the workshop, my knowledge about the OBE/SCL was vague and limited. Although, my classes were associated with OBE and SCL guidelines to some extent, but it was after participating in the workshop that I understood my knowledge and practice of the OBE/SCL was not well-formulated and I did not have deep understanding of the philosophies, theories and variety of techniques as I learned them during the workshop.

The workshop started with the introduction of the theories of OBE by the UTM experts. For me, it was a chance where I could learn about the OBE and modify my prior insufficient understandings of it. Following the OBE trainings, the SCL training was quite interesting one for me. I understood how a well-designed student-centered classes would revolutionize the way we as lecturers manage classes and students remember, learn and construct their knowledge about a particular subject.

One of best things about the training was that it was facilitated by UTM relevant academic personnel that had extensive knowledge and experience of the implementation of the OBE/SCL in their immediate classes in UTM and the struggle and finally the successes they have gone through and achieved in the path towards an OBE/SCL equipped teaching and learning. While we were sometimes got disappointed about the feasibility of this initiative in our not well-equipped and resourceful universities, the experts were sharing their same experience and thought in this regard and how they overcame those challenges.

Throughout the workshop, I and my fellow trainees have gone through extensive and deep debates/discussions about the OBE and SCL. Trainers formulated the whole workshop in a way that helped me and other trainees no only get familiar with concepts and techniques, but also we could get deep comprehension of them through discussions and reflections. Every technique or concept introduced was explained via a philosophy that backs it. And also every trainee had to present his understanding of a topic that was learnt a day before in order to make sure everything is understood in its best manner.

And when the workshop came to its end and while I was comparing my prior knowledge about the OBE/SCL and the knowledge I had before, I realized that now I am very familiar with them and got even more passionate in doing my part for the implementation of the concepts and techniques I had learned.

And now that I alongside with other members of OBE/SCL community are back on our duties in our respective universities, I feel not only obliged but also passionate in keeping the track on and doing my part and work further with HEDP in this regard. And I think there is a lot of space for me in this regard, as I am head of a faculty in my university as well as member of the university’s academic council. I have already started efforts right from attracting university leaders’ attention to the importance of the OBE/SCL which will be followed by training other lecturers of the university and observing OBE/SCL enculturation in all classes of the university.

Besides, from my point of view for embedment of the OBE/SCL in Afghan public universities, I think that a national summit of the OBE and SCL community is needed. It would be a platform where champions from all relevant universities can get together and share their ideas in this regard and work on a road-map where a gradual and systematic implementation of OBE/SCL for Afghan public universities is designed. This design then should be backed by law from the side of the MoHE which would make implementation of OBE/SCL obligatory in respective universities.

Finally, As a result of this training I feel that now I have a deeper knowledge of OBE/SCL and all the advantages it would have if implemented. Thus, this knowledge is associated with a dream that someday in near future, Afghan universities will all set their teaching and learning activities based on the guidelines proposed in the context of the OBE/SCL and then it would be the time that emerging Afghanistan would be proud of having a dynamic, knowledge producing universities and educational bodies.

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