Every year, Lewis & Clark Professor of Education Zaher Wahab leaves Portland to devote four months of service to the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education.
Early this year, he worked with Kabul Education University to create Afghanistan’s first master’s degree program for teacher education faculty. The first cohort is made up of eleven men and eleven women, all of whom left teaching positions in teacher-training colleges from around the country to earn this unique master’s degree.
“Four in five Afghan school teachers and half of university instructors are under-qualified—many are illiterate,” Wahab said. “This program was developed to introduce them to new ways and theories of teaching and learning.”
Like the rest of Afghanistan’s capital city, Wahab said, the university has no regular running water. The city, with a population of 3.5 million people, has no electricity, no garbage collection, and no sewer system. The streets are lined with damaged buildings and garbage. Concrete blast barriers surround every important building such as the Kabul airport, museums, NGO offices, hotels, and government buildings. Military waste, such as exploded trucks and planes, covers the country. It is unsafe to travel with out bodyguards and armed vehicles, Wahab said.
“This is the first master’s degree program in decades in this country,” he said. “Education may save this savaged country; it is hoping against hope—but you have to believe it will make a difference.”
This photo slideshow features images Wahab captured during a recent stay in Afghanistan. He plans to return to Afghanistan in February 2009 to continue teaching in the master’s degree program and continue his work with the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education.
In December, Wahab will share stories about the war in Afghanistan as part of a brown-bag lunch speakers series at Lewis & Clark. His session takes place on Wednesday, December 16 on the graduate school campus.