German aid for Afghan scientists and students Asia | DW

Closed state universities, teachers not paid for months, gender divisions in private universities, poor future prospects for academics, especially for scientists and students: Nearly three-and-a-half months after Taliban take power, university landscape in Afghanistan looks bleak

Under the circumstances, Western-linked scientists are trying to leave the country if possible, said Conrad Shettar, a board member of the Working Group Afghanistan (AGA) in an interview with DW. The AGA is a group of academics and other experts dedicated to the exchange of information on Afghanistan since 1966. He knows a large number of Afghans working in higher education who have applied for asylum in Germany or the United States and have already left the country, Shatter said. “We are already monitoring a brain drain from Afghanistan, especially to the west.”

Call for help from German scientific institutes

Afghan scientists are appealing for help from two of the most important German organizations promoting scientific exchange through scholarships internationally: the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which looks after students and doctoral candidates, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), professors. Responsible for. Normal cooperation with Afghanistan has been suspended in the face of the scientifically conflicting situation, which makes exceptional support even more necessary.

Entrance examination of Afghanistan University in Ghazni

Entrance test at Ghassani University in August 2020

Hundreds of requests for help have reached DAAD, said Christian Hullshorstar, head of the Southern Scholarship Program, in a DW interview. “Last year we offered a total of 50 scholarships (as part of the so-called Hilde Domain program),” says Hülshörster. Some of them have gone to the Afghans. “And we recently reached an agreement with the Federal Foreign Office to release more funds. This means that we could probably provide an additional 25 to 30 additional scholarships specifically for this group.”

DAAD’s Hilde Domin program, launched almost a year ago, aims to support globally endangered students and doctoral candidates who have officially or in fact denied the right to education in their country of birth so that they can start or continue their studies. In Germany

The girls' schooling in Afghanistan is Taliban

Currently only education for girls up to the end of primary school

The Philip Schwartz Initiative, launched by AVH in 2015 with the Federal Foreign Office, pursues the same objective at the professor level. Frank Albrecht, program manager at the Philip Schwartz Initiative, says Afghan scientists are in dire need of help: “We can really help only in the scientific field, but wherever there is such a connection, we try to give advice and make connections.”

“Bridge grant” in Germany

“But given the extent of the crisis, we need to think ahead and create new ground,” Albrecht continued. That’s why AVH, with the support of the Federal Foreign Office, is setting up a special program called “Bridges for Afghanistan”, which aims to give about 20 scientists access to safe havens at German universities and research institutes. One year bridge scholarship. Albrecht hopes the first funding could begin “within a few months.”

BG Afghanistan |  Training

Graduation Ceremony at the Private Mirwais Nika University in Kandahar at the end of November 2021

DAAD also uses “bridging grant” instruments, 60 of them so far. “They primarily target people from Afghanistan who are already in Germany and have been cut off from financial aid, for example, by their parents, because of their country’s political development. It also targets people who have studied here but are unable to return to their homeland Says, “Christian Hullshoster explains.

Looking for new avenues of educational collaboration

In the long run, little will change for the better in Afghanistan, hopes Conrad Shettar. He does not think it is promising for the Taliban to try to promote Western understanding of science. DAAD sees it the same way, says Christian Halshorstar. “So next year we will address the question of what can be done for those who cannot come to Germany. We are thinking about the opportunity for virtual education. We want to contribute to ensuring that Afghanistan is not completely lost. Generation is.” Scholarships are also being discussed in third countries. “We will examine whether we offer so-called third country scholarships for the large Afghan community already existing in neighboring countries.”

Iran Afghan Refugee |  School children

School for Afghan Refugee Children in Tehran: A Role Model for the Academic Sector?

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is also considering sustainable assistance, says Frank Albrecht. “It would be irresponsible to ignore the next period of funding and leave people to themselves after a period of initial treatment. That is why the development of the idea of ​​a sustainable future must be the focus of every funding.”

Conrad Shettar speculates that in Afghanistan itself, for the foreseeable future, cooperation will probably only be possible with private organizations or private professors. But there are other options. “This includes, for example, what the UN is already doing, such as teachers’ salaries being funded by the international community. This approach could also increase the salaries of professors and other university staff. Here, with the UN, you have a strong system Can. “

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