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University entrance exam kicks off: Govt urged to regulate private varsities

KABUL: Ministry of Higher Education conducted the first round of university entrance examination in Kabul province. As many as 12,000 candidates including 400 girls appeared in the test.

Deputy Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), Mohammad Usman Baburi, said the other day that estimated around 80,000 candidates would take the entrance test alone in Kabul province.

Baburi said the entrance exams would be continued till February 19 and the results would be announced on March 20.

He pointed that out so far around 187,000 people passed the entrance test across the country, adding that approximately 80,000 others would take part in the exams in Kabul which would increase the number to 26,6000 including 56,000 female students.

He said the Ministry of Higher Education would enroll around 55,000 successful candidates in the current year—the same figure enrolled in governmental universities last year.

According to him, around 37,000 students would be enrolled in higher education institutes. The deputy minister stressed that the entrance exams would be transparent and no one would be allowed to interfere in the process to support a particular candidate.

“We will introduce some talented students with high scores in the entrance test to private higher education institutes for not securing seat in state-owned universities,” he said.

Regarding poor quality education in the private universities, he assured that strict action would be taken against all those private higher education institutes who are not complying with rules and regulations of the ministry. He added that private medical colleges lack the required facilities and not imparting quality education. The deputy minister said the ministry would necessary changes to improve status off the private varsities.

“Now, we do not issue license to those institutes that provide poor quality education. We asked the presidential office to support our decision,” he said, adding that the ministry is mulling to take test from graduates of private medical colleges.

Replying to a query he said that this year around 23,000 students from state-owned universities and 8,200 students from private universities will be graduated.

  1. Nadeem Alizai, an analyst, told Afghanistan Times that entrance exams have mostly ended into controversies as influential people try all available means including their authority, money and relations with high-ranking officials to support their children unfairly to pass the test.

“Most of the time they succeed because corruption and favoritism is rampant in the country. Every time before entrance examinations we hear the officials saying that they would not allow anyone to influence the exam process. However, the end result is always come different from what projected by Ministry of Higher Education,” he said.

Alizai added that private higher education institutes are daringly exploiting poor people under the very nose of the authorities, especially students who are talented but could not get admission in state-owned universities due to nepotism and corruption.

“We have dual education system. One imparted by the public varsities and other by the private universities. Education of the quality is drastically poor. Our education system is producing more clerks instead of well-known scientists, engineers, doctors and leaders,” he opined.

Universities’ students find it a herculean task to start and complete work on thesis because their teachers don’t know about research methodologies, Alizai said who is also a media researcher. “Recently, I asked few students of well-known private universities in Kabul about research methodologies and importance of literature review in thesis. Amazingly, they even did not know about research question. Now guess how they can differentiate between qualitative and quantitative methods,” he underlined.

He said the government should establish an organization that should regulate the private universities because with this poor quality of education it is almost impossible to produce skilled workforce required by the market and steer Afghanistan in the right direction.

When asked whether the government could take action against universities that are not imparting high-quality education, he said that it would not be a piece of cake because most the universities are owned by influential figures and are also provided jobs to hundreds of people. “Moreover, thousands of students are enrolled in private universities. If the government shuts these private universities, tell me that then where the students will pursue their higher studies. Closing these universities is not a good option but improvement is the best way to ensure quality education is imparted,” he pointed out.

He said the special regulatory body if established would be responsible to visit the universities to make sure that students are not exploited but intellectually developed and prepared for the local and international job market. (Akhtar M. Nikzad)

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