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Shahar Naweed

Following over 40 years of conflict, Afghanistan is taking steps towards re-establishing itself on the world stage.

However, in order to begin re-engaging internationally and make the transition to becoming more self-reliant as a country, strong capability in the English language is essential.

To address this, the British Council and the Department for International Development have partnered together to deliver the ‘English for Afghans’ programme. The programme, which started in November 2017, is due to run for three years.

A lack of English skills in Afghanistan has been identified as a major barrier to youth entering the labour force. Observational evidence has also shown that access to education and attainment can help to limit participation in militancy or extremism. As religious scholars play a central role in education, there remains a need for a strong community of Islamic teachers and students to be equipped with English language, communication, and critical thinking skills.

Therefore, the English for Afghans programme will focus its efforts in three areas: supporting English in schools, within the civil service, and for religious leaders.

English for schools

To help improve employment prospects for young people in Afghanistan, English teachers will be given more support in secondary schools. To begin with, 30 Master Trainers will be trained in modern approaches to English Language teaching, after which the training will be cascaded to 750 school teachers across 15 provinces. As a result, 60,000 students in secondary schools are expected to receive better quality English language instruction.

Flagship English Learning Centres will act as focal points for all face-to-face training and will remain available for use once the programme comes to a close, as part of the programme’s legacy arrangements. The Ministry of Education will also be provided with a model and materials to maintain a cadre of Master Trainers who can continue the process and ensure the learning is cascaded.

English for the Civil Service

Afghan civil servants will be equipped with the skills to communicate more effectively, using English at local, national and international levels. This component will be piloted in eight Ministries initially, with 640 civil servants receiving the training.

English for religious leaders

A training programme for religious and tribal leaders will enable religious teachers and students to develop partnerships with mosques in the UK and India. The aim is to support mutual learning and communication of peaceful and counter-extremist messages at local, national and international levels.

As the evidence base for this component is more limited, it will initially be implemented as a pilot to help build up the evidence base. It is estimated that 60 religious leaders and students from Kabul will be trained.