Thursday, June 20, 2024

What future for Afghan academics?

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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From 8,000 college students in 2001, the year the US invasion ended the Taliban regime, the student body has grown to 170,000 by 2018, a quarter of whom are women. Progress largely attributed to international aid: Since 2004, the World Bank, USAID, and others have sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Afghan universities to support teaching and research. Universities that went from a few 20 years ago to about 30 public institutions – and many private ones.

magazines temper nature And Science This week I quote a number of Afghan and Afghan academics who now fear the worst.

One of them, Najibullah Kakar, a seismologist, studied in Germany and helped set up the first earthquake detection network in Afghanistan in 2014. He and his colleagues had to stop this work in 2019, due to armed conflicts in remote areas, and now living in Afghanistan, Not sure what to expect.

They are among the many researchers who have come forward to be welcome as refugees. Organism Scientists are in danger, based in New York, which has been on a mission for the past few years to find host universities around the world for academics at risk of retaliation, says it received more than 500 applications from Afghanistan in the month of August alone. The organization is evaluating about 160 institutions in the United States or Europe that have responded when invited.

Among the academics who consider themselves in danger, there are these Who worked in international teams, legal scholars whose field of expertise conflicts with a strict interpretation of faith. And above all, a lot of women.

Admittedly, the Taliban made sure to repeat for a week that they had changed. Some researchers reported that discussions are underway between the Taliban and its founding leadership to restart the study.

But even if the worst-case scenario does not materialize—that is, even if women can continue to teach, and academics who have worked with the West or criticized the new system are not tracked down—education and the two students hardly go together. Suspension in a Science Afghan scientist with a pseudonym: “Educated people are targeted because they have changed the country.” Academic life “contravenes the ideology of the Taliban.” Last week, one of them was appointed as the new dean of Paktia University in Gardez.

Moreover, even without the worst-case scenario, if international aid stops, it is difficult to see how the salaries of teachers and researchers will be paid, notes Muhammad Asim Mayar, an expert in water management at Kabul Polytechnic University. And some raise, with the chaos prevailing in the country and the spread of poverty, the dangers of looting in some institutions.

One thing is for sure, a large number of these teachers, researchers or students, They have already left, among about 100,000 people who have been evacuated since August 15. “It is a disaster for the future of Afghanistan,” Suspension in a temper nature A member of the Academy of Sciences who asked not to be named – and his colleagues have not been paid for two months.

Photo: Kabul Polytechnic University, 2014 / Michael Foley / Flickr

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