Kabul University and SDGs

The millennium Development Goal period came to its end and the problems still remained. To address those problems, in 2015, the UN introduced another program called SDGs to tackle several challenges the world is facing such as Climate Change, poverty, hunger, insecurity and instability, weak governance and widespread corruption, lack of transparency and accountability, health issues, women and girls vulnerability, unemployment, inequality, violence, injustice, lack of access to safe drinking water and sustainable energy. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan also signed up to and promised to reach 17 goals and 169 targets included in SDG framework. Based on that Afghanistan adopted 16 of the 17 SDGs, 125 of the 169 targets, and 190 of the 217 indicators. The 17 goals have been divided into 8 national sectors and 17 sub-sectors to clarify the SDGs Agenda for the respective line ministries. All 16 Afghanistan SDGs are interlinked with each other and the authorities are trying much to reflect them in the policies and strategies of different sectors. Along with this formulated available resources to mainstream the SDGs into National Priority programs and the ANPDF- Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework. We were not well prepared to achieve those goals that the Corona virus pandemic contributed to worsen the issues and problems. If we look at the A-SDGs, the A-SDGs in the education sector include: Goal 4, 8, 11, 12 and 16. In addition, there are 14 targets and 41 indicators related to the education sector. Coming to that point what Afghan universities can do and what is their role to achieve those goals. We at Kabul University believe and you agree with us that the universities and higher education institutions are essential and can support, promote, and contribute to achieving all the 16 adopted goals and play important role in meeting the challenges of sustainable development through education. 

Because the universities train the new generation with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes; create study programs, organize extracurricular activities and understanding to address sustainability challenges and opportunities; perform research that advances the sustainability development agenda; and is considered a key component of long-term economic growth.To be effective and increase the role of universities in achieving A-SDGs, we need several things to be done.

To begin with, a consortium of universities is required to conduct projects that help to enable students to shape sustainability competencies. It is necessary to equip all individuals with the appropriate knowledge and skills to shape a system of sustainability-related values and sustainability competencies. The sustainability competencies includes systemic thinking; interdisciplinary work; anticipatory thinking; justice, responsibility, and ethics; critical thinking and analytical work; interpersonal relationships and collaboration; empathy and change of perspectives; communication and use of the media; strategic thinking; personal engagement; assessment and evaluation; and tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty.

The universities commitment to the Afghan SDG. Universities can also use their expertise, capabilities, and leadership to influence other stakeholders to adopt more sustainable policies and practices to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 Third, raising awareness: the study shows neither the majority students nor their teachers are aware of the Afghan –SDGs. We need to increase this awareness not among the students and teachers but also among the internal and external stakeholders of the Afghan-SDGs.

Also, the universities have to utilize their expertise to implement qualitative and quantitative research contributions to the SDGs. Public universities need funds for such research projects and modern technologies to achieve sustainable development.

 Measuring and reporting is essential on universities research contributions to the SDGs, targets and indicators.

Last but not the least, strong collaboration is required. We need to foster internal and external collaboration and facilitate research interlinkages and partnerships to advance the Afghan SDGs.

Kabul University use the following steps to start and engage with the SDG through a change plan developed recently.

Mapping what it is already doing; building internal capacity and ownership of the SDGs; identifying priorities; monitoring and evaluation the current undergraduate and graduate programs; increase efforts to conduct research projects; objectifying the scholarly works; opportunities and gaps; revising the curriculums based on the market need, focusing and developing study programs which helps in knowledge base economy, integrating, implementing and embedding the SDGs within our strategies, policies and plans; building capacities of students and faculty members; and monitoring, evaluating and communicating its actions on the SDGs.

Kabul University has made significant progress over the past 5 years. The enrolment of new students increased almost 25%. Girl’s enrolment increased from 31% to 46%. The teacher-student ratio improved from 42 to 36. In terms of programs, KU introduced 7 new programs in bachelor and 5 graduate programs. Currently KU offers 71 undergraduate, 21 master degree programs and two PhD programs. Also, KU has 6 graduates programs in process. In Addition to that, KU builds up the capacity of faculty members through the Professional Development Center. For students, we have students skill development center in which they acquire diverse skills may need upon graduation. Providing free education to all; accommodating and providing free food to all female students those who are coming from 35 km away of the campus; reduced violence and harassment; discrimination; equal access to libraries and information resources;

KU attempt to shape sustainable development-oriented competencies through formal sustainable development education and non-formal activities toward social and environmental challenges.