NU-SDSU Partnership – A Case Study

December 2008

Nangarhar University - San Diego State University


A Case Study supported through the

Strengthening Higher Education Program (SHEP)

Afghanistan Ministry of Higher Education

and the World Bank

December 2008


The following is a case study of the collaborative Partnership that has emerged between Nangarhar University (NU) and San Diego State University (SDSU). The Partnership represents many successes and challenges. The Partnership demonstrates a long-term commitment to education, peace and security that is dependent on the relationships that are created and sustained between individuals working together towards a common interest. The NU-SDSU Partnership is a manifestation of the efforts of Nangarhar University, the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club, Rotary International, SDSU’s Interwork Institute, the Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace, and the vision and resources of the Afghanistan Ministry of Higher Education working in collaboration with the World Bank to invest in the Strengthening Higher Education Program (SHEP).

SHEP envisioned partnerships between institutions of higher education in Afghanistan with institutions of higher education in other parts of the world. The concept is simple in design and complex in implementation: create collegial partnerships to support capacity building efforts in critical areas within higher education programs in Afghanistan. This case study examines the development of the NU-SDSU Partnership, its successes, challenges and future opportunities.

The NU-SDSU Partnership Framework

The Partnership initially began through people-to-people contacts. As governments were still putting together top down systems of reconstruction aid to Afghanistan, two La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club volunteers traveled to Jalalabad, Afghanistan in 2002, visited NU and started the foundation for future cooperation and collaborative projects. The premise was a people-to-people approach that focused on critical local redevelopment needs. Within the first few months of contact a K-8 school was being built and plans were being formed to create a computer lab at NU.

From this beginning the two volunteers engaged faculty and staff from SDSU’s Interwork Institute. This resulted in a relationship between NU and SDSU that has been continuously developed, refined and expanded during the past six years. The Partnership is based on a vision that quality changes in human development must come through education and targeted specific program development. The needs emerged from NU. The Partnership has worked to identify resources and opportunities to assist NU in developing high quality education programs for its students. As academic programs are being implemented, the inevitable challenges are met through the strength of the relationships that have been established during the past six years.

The following benchmarks describe the events and efforts that have transpired during the past six years.

· During a 2002 visit to NU by Steve Brown and Fary Moini (L Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club, Rotary International volunteers) found the needs at NU were tremendous. NU had suffered damage to their facilities and the once vibrant campus was now struggling to rebuild their academic programs with few resources available. The initial reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, from 2000-2002, focused more on establishing basic infrastructure needs such as roads, power, and water. At that time, NU did not have any computer facilities available for faculty or student use, no connection to the Internet, very few useable textbooks, few faculty members with advanced degrees, and no meaningful relationships or communication with other universities.

There were approximately 3,500 students attending NU with close to 250 faculty. When asked about priority needs at that time, the Chancellor identified two major areas of need. First, within the Language and Literature Faculty, there was a critical need to develop an English Language training program that would offer a BA degree with a specialization in teaching English as a foreign language to respond to an urgent need for teachers to teach English. Second, there was a need to build the information technology infrastructure at NU so faculty and students would have access to computers and the Internet.

· In March 2004, Dr. Steve Spencer and Mr. Farid Saydee of SDSU’s Interwork Institute traveled to Jalalabad, Afghanistan with Mr. Steve Brown and Ms. Fary Moini of the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club to assist in the set-up and training associated with the Rotary donation of a ten-station computer lab with high-speed satellite Internet access for NU. This donation represented $84,000. The result was dramatic. Faculty who had no previous contact with the Internet or computers were provided basic training and soon had email addresses and were communicating with colleagues around the world. This basic access to communication, often taken for granted in developed nations, opened the world to NU faculty and students. Since that time, hundreds of hours of basic computer training have been provided for faculty who are now able to readily use the Internet to communicate and seek new opportunities for research and development.

· During the period from December 2004 to December 2005, SDSU’s Interwork Institute administered a $53,000 planning grant from the Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace to examine the feasibility of developing a long-term English Language Program and enhanced Information Technology Utilization including Distance Learning Programs. With these financial resources, the Chancellor of NU was invited to visit SDSU to discuss future possibilities for collaborative projects that would expand the Partnership between NU-SDSU.

· In January and February 2005, Mr. Farid Saydee participated in a one-month teacher-training program at SDSU’s College of Extended Studies – American Language Institute (CES-ALI), through a scholarship provided by CES-ALI. During this time, Mr. Saydee and Marla Federe (CES-ALI Director during this period) developed the English language needs assessment surveys, which were conducted during Mr. Saydee’s March 2005 trip to NU.

· In March 2005, Mr. Farid Saydee traveled to NU as part of the Hansen Grant to conduct the extended needs assessment activities. The purpose of the trip was to gather data to evaluate the needs in the areas of English language program development and information technology infrastructure and training. Based on the data gathered from his trip as well as a continuous dialog between the universities, a comprehensive needs assessment report was completed and used as a basis for future developments.

· In March 2005, NU and SDSU signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding to serve as the foundation for further program development between the two institutions of higher education.

· In May 2005, six professors from NU visited San Diego as part of a Rotary International GSE Team. SDSU arranged for lap top computers to be donated to each of the team members. Computer training was provided to each of the team members.

· From May to July 2005, two of the visiting GSE Team members extended their stay to participate in an Intensive English Language Development program, as well as a part-time teacher-training program at SDSU’s CES-ALI. During this time, additional needs assessment activities were conducted and further plans were developed for a potential English Language Program by faculty at NU and developed and supported by SDSU.

· In October 2005, The Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace awarded an additional $25,000 to SDSU’s Interwork Institute to continue the Partnership efforts between NU and SDSU. These funds included resources to seek out new long-term funding that could respond to NU’s needs of developing an English Language Program and enhanced Information Technology resources.

· In November 2005, Steve Brown and Fary Moini visited NU and delivered a letter of invitation from SDSU President Stephen Weber to the Chancellor of NU to visit SDSU. During this trip, ideas were discussed concerning the funding and resources necessary to develop an International Learning Center (ILC) and Guest House for visiting professors on the NU campus. The idea was supported by NU. Initial plans were developed for the construction of the ILC and Guest House. The Chancellor also identified the need for support in providing technical assistance and training in the area of Engineering. These needs were communicated to SDSU.

During this trip, with $5,000 of additional funding provided by the SDSU President’s Leadership Fund, equipment and technical services were purchased to extend the Internet connection from the computer lab to the large auditorium on the NU campus.

· In March 2005, a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions was signed to promote the development of collaborative projects. The MOU extended the NU/SDSU Partnership, which was initially developed with a grant from the Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace administered through the SDSU Research Foundation (SDSURF).

· In December 2005, Steve Brown notified SDSU that, with the support of SDSU President Weber, $100,000 in private funding had been identified for the initial construction of the International Learning Center and Guest House at NU.

· In February 2006, The NU Chancellor, Dr. Amanullah Hamidzai, and Engineering Professor Mohammad Ajmal Habib Safi visited SDSU to finalize partnership plans for developing initial proposals that will focus on enhanced Information Technology utilization, English Language Program Development, and Engineering Program Development.

· From April through May 2006, Fary Moini, representing Rotary International, was on the NU campus and worked extensively with campus faculty and administrators on a series of projects. These included English language teaching, medical education and services, an assessment of various technology capabilities and the availability of resources for faculty development. Plans started on the development of the International Learning Center.

· In December 2006, NU and SDSU established a three-year Partnership focusing on technical assistance and capacity building activities to support NU in developing enhanced information technology resources and an English Language Program within the Languages and Literature Faculty. The proposal was submitted to the World Bank for funding consideration through the Strengthening Higher Education Program (SHEP). The project was approved and the English Partnership between NU and SDSU was funded in the amount of $1,996,374 from December 2006 through December 2009. This project provides for technical assistance in developing a BA English program to ultimately serve 400 students per year. The project includes curriculum development, short-term intensive Summer faculty development institutes at SDSU, the expanded use of computers and the Internet and fully implementing programs in the International Learning Center.

· From January to June 2007, SDSU, working in collaboration with NU, completed the full English language program needs assessment and program development recommendation plan including full program description.

· From July to September 2007, SDSU conducted the first Faculty Development Institutes with training provided in San Diego and in Dubai, UAE.

· In September 2007, the NU International Learning Center and Guest House construction was completed.

· In September 2007, 100 first year undergraduate students entered the new English Language Program at NU. NU English faculty was assisted by the NU/SDSU partnership through the process of testing and placing students as well as general English program administration. Faculty were coached in best practices of teaching English as a foreign language throughout the term, and participated in professional development coaching via the SDSU e-Coaching platform.

· In July and August 2008, SDSU conducted the second Faculty Development Institute with training provided in San Diego.

· In September 2008, a second cohort of 100 students started the English program as first year students and the previous 100 students continued the second year of study within the English BA program. Coaching in administration and best practices of second language teaching continued as did professional development through the SDSU e-Coaching platform.

· As a result of the successful outcomes, funding and support have continued to grow. Private funding coordinated through the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club, funds obtained through the Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace, and World Bank funding under SHEP have built upon a strong and committed partnership between NU and SDSU. This Project extends the current efforts, which are focused on a three-year project to establish an English Language Program, enhanced Information Technology resources at NU and implementation of seminars and workshops at the ILC.

· In January 2008, given the success of the English Language Program Partnership Agreement, SDSU and NU extended the existing English Language Program and Information Technology development efforts into the area of Engineering. NU and SDSU began a 30-month training, technical assistance, and program development effort in the area of Engineering, building upon the foundation of existing successful methods being utilized in the areas of English and Information Technology. SDSU utilizes the expert resources of the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE), the Language Acquisition and Resource Center (LARC) and the Interwork Institute (II).

Lessons Learned

As a result of the successful outcomes, funding and support have continued to grow. Private funding coordinated through the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club, funds obtained through the Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace, and World Bank funding under SHEP have built upon a strong and committed partnership between NU and SDSU.

The following are key lessons that have been learned as the NU and SDSU Partnership has continued to develop over the past six years. The learning process continues on a daily basis to ensure, sustain and grow the Partnership and improve the capacity of NU to provide high quality education programs.

· The direction of the Partnership must be owned and led by the faculty, students and administrators of NU. Carefully identifying NU needs and expectations and then shaping the educational responses and programs to respond to these needs is essential. This is an ongoing and evolving process that requires mutual respect and trust.

· The success of the Partnership depends on establishing and supporting sound working relationships between key stakeholders. The working relationships must be sustained through regular communication including periodic face-to-face meetings that allow for progress reviews and updates to occur.

· The success of the Partnership requires the flexibility to adjust activities in a manner that produces the desired outcomes of the project. Our ability to work through issues that might otherwise prevent forward progress is critical.

· The actions of the Partnership must continually focus on ownership by the NU faculty, administrators and students. The development of programs and curriculum must use sound pedagogy and current instructional strategies while being mindful of the need to infuse these new practices within the academic culture of NU.