Outcome Based Education and Student Centered Learning (OBE&SCL) in Afghanistan

Afghan universities were largely traditional, with teacher-centered pedagogy and passive student learning. International trends in universities are increasingly moving toward active student centered learning and outcome-based education which will integrate with e-learning and blended learning. Afghan universities urgently needed to modernize teaching and learning process to reflect and keep pace with these international trends.

This issue has been highlighted in the NHESP-II and is also one of the components in the Higher Education Development Program (HEDP) and efforts are taken to modernize and enhance the quality of teaching and learning. Hence, Outcome Based Education & Student Centered Learning (OBE-SCL) approaches came into play to achieve this goal. Through this initiative, it was aimed at assisting universities in introducing modern OBE-SCL in line with current international trends in higher education. The introduction of OBE-SCL will require new approaches to curriculum design and delivery; innovative teaching methods and techniques; active and dynamic learning models; increased use of higher education publications, and ICT and internet-based resources; and the modernization of assessment systems at the universities.

The concept of OBE-SCL was introduced to the ministry of higher education and universities through various local and overseas training workshops. The very first workshop was conducted in late 2015 at the Ministry of Higher Education. This workshop was simply an introduction to the OBE-SCL. The OBE-SCL specialists from the University of Technology Malaysia mentored the Afghan academic staff in the workshop. At the end of the workshop based on a mutual understanding and agreement between the ministry of higher education and the OBE-SCL specialists from the University of Technology Malaysia, it was recommended that an advanced OBE-SCL training should be conducted for a bigger number of academic staff in Afghanistan. As a result by mid-2016 the advanced training was held and 170 academic staff from nearly all universities and higher education institutions attend the training. There were four OBE-SCL specialists from UTM mentoring the participants. This workshop helped Afghan faculties have a more solid understanding of OBE-SCL concepts.

The ministry of higher education and universities showed high level of enthusiasm towards embracing the OBE-SCL approach. Hence, during three consecutive years, 2016, 2017 and 2018 HEDP in coordination with Center for Engineering Education (CEE) organized the Advanced ToT OBE-SCL training at UTM, Malaysia. These advanced ToT training aimed at training Afghan academic staff as OBE-SCL master trainer or champion so that on their return they will deliver OBE-SCL training locally at their universities. As a result, 68 Afghan academic staff were recognized as OBE-SCL master trainers and they represented 24 public universities and two higher education institutions.

These 68 OBE-SCL master trainers were actively engaged in conducting OBE-SCL training workshops since 2016 and as of now with the help of these 68 master trainers, around 2600 academic staff received the OBE-SCL training. However, the implementation of OBE-SCL still remains a point of concern for the ministry and universities. Afghan universities and academic staff need to undergo through a cultural change from that of traditional and teacher-centered approach to the modern outcome-based and student-centered approach. It is obvious that every change faces resistance and so did OBE-SCL.

OBE-SCL concept have a good reputation among the academic staff and educational leaders at the universities. There is a growing tendency towards embracing OBE-SCL for the academic staff. OBE-SCL has built a strong basis and is favored by majority of the academic staff. The academic staff are moving towards planning and developing their course syllabus, contents, teaching and learning activities, and assessment mechanism aligned with OBE-SCL standards. The academic staff define and design their course learning outcomes and link them with the program education objectives. The academic staff have a good understanding of various student centered learning methods and apply them in their courses.

“The OBE/SCL workshop was very productive, I learned new methods of teaching and learning. I particularly liked the demo of teaching and it was a really helpful and learning experience.” Says Mohammad Dost Safi an Assistant Professor from Nangarhar University.

Students as the end product also welcome this new educational paradigm and perceive it as a good system to help them become active learners and job-market ready. Students believe that OBE and SCL approaches have had a massive impact on their instructors’ quality of teaching and learning and consequently it impacted the way they learn now. They state that OBE-SCL comparing to the traditional approach has helped them a lot to become independent learners and build a concrete understanding of the course contents.