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Senior diplomat visits Bradford's pioneering new MSc programme delivered in Tajikistan

Published: Tue 28 Oct 2014
Senior diplomat visits Bradford's pioneering new MSc programme delivered in Tajikistan

From the Essays of Francis Bacon we are familiar with a famous aphorism "if the hill will not come to Mohammad then Mohammad will go to the hill". As it happens, when Mohammad Ali and 23 other staff members of Aga Khan Foundation in Afghanistan and Tajikistan wanted to do a Masters programme but could not leave the important work they are doing here to come to Bradford, the University of Bradford programme comes to the region.

On Sunday 12th October, a group of University of Bradford staff and students welcomed Ms Nurjehan Mawani, Diplomatic Representative of Aga Khan Development Network in Afghanistan to the “class room”. Well, in this case, a meeting room in a hotel in Dushanbe has become the ‘class room’ for two weeks for the staff and students on this programme. Ms Mawani who previously held senior positions within Canadian public institutions and was holding diplomatic positions in Central Asia before taking up recently as the diplomatic representative in Afghanistan. Ms Mawani said how genuinely pleased she was to know of University of Bradford's involvement in this important programme to contribute to the development of professional capacity in this region.

The team leader of this programme Dr PB Anand thanked Ms Mawani on behalf of all academic and administrative staff of the University of Bradford involved in this programme. 

Professor Donna Lee in her message said: "We are delighted to be working so closely with colleagues in the Aga Khan Development Network. The Bradford Centre for International Development is committed to delivering and continuing to develop innovative programmes in International Development and Management with colleagues in Afghanistan."

After more than year in preparation, a new and bespoke MSc in International Development Policy and Management is being delivered by staff of the Faculty of SIS. The Bradford Centre for International Development (BCID) was approached by Aga Khan Development Network in Geneva with a view to developing a new programme especially for building the capacity of AKDN organisations mainly in Afghanistan. The programme is a pioneering development on several levels.

Design of the programme: First of all, in depth discussions took place with a wide group of stakeholders from AKF Afghanistan at the very start of the design of the programme. At this stage all potential modules within the Faculty of SIS were considered in relation to training needs of the organisation and academic integrity of a possible programme. Based on this the new MSc was designed. The draft proposals were shared with Staff Student Liaison Committee meeting of students back at Bradford and their views enriched the design of the programme. Second while BCID has delivered other intensive programmes those were mainly for international Development Banks whereas through this programme the University is directly contributing to strengthening the capacity of a non-governmental organisation that is using a multiple input area development approach in a number of provinces in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Third, the programme involves modules from both Development Studies and Peace Studies and this covers both development and peace issues contributing directly to the promotion of well-being in Afghanistan. Fourth, over a period of time the Faculty of SIS divisions have been involved in external and collaborative programmes elsewhere such as the programme in Mzumbe University. While the AKF programme is not a collaborative programme i.e., all modules are delivered entirely by Bradford staff, the experiences with collaborative programmes helped in putting in place the necessary quality assurance mechanisms. As our Pro-Vice Chancellor Shirley Congdon emphasised in her inaugural message of this programme, the fact that these are UoB students even if they are not on campus informs the ethos of the programme. 

For example, at the commencement of the programme in May 2014, Ms Ellie Clement, our Subject Librarian, also travelled along with academic staff Dr PB Anand, Prof John Cusworth, Dr H Jalilian and Dr B Morvaridi to ensure that along with academic modules students also get necessary training and inputs concerning access to library, electronic resources and using EndNote. Twenty-two staff members of AKDN organisations from Afghanistan were joined by two staff members of AKF from Tajikistan.

Modular structure: Two modules were delivered in May/June - these covered Public Policy Analysis and Management and Issues in Development Theory. Two further modules are being delivered right now in October 2014 - these are Gender, Conflict and Development led by Dr Fiona Macaulay and supported by Dr PB Anand and a Project and Programme Management module being delivered by Prof John Cusworth. 

At the end of the Gender, Conflict and Development module, the academic leading the module Dr Fiona Macaulay said: "I am absolutely delighted to be here- these students are so highly motivated and bring so much to the programme. I am amazed by the quality of the discussions and feel that I have also learned something about the region".

A new feather in the cap: BCID already has a track record of delivering our MA to staff of Aga Khan Foundation and related organisations back in 2004 to 2008. That programme started with the first module of Project Planning and Design delivered in November 2004 in Khorog in the Pamir mountains in the GBAO region of Tajikistan. That programme began initially as a PG Certificate programme and gradually additional modules were delivered as per demand. Finally some 10 participants including four women completed the MSc programme. ¿Yodgor Faizov, CEO of AKF Tajikistan noted that many alumni from that programme including Kishwar Abdullaev, Mohammad Bodurbekov, Zuloby Mamadfazilov, Shodmon Hojibekov and Nafisa Gulshaeva are now in senior positions within the AKDN organisations in Tajikistan.

Aimal Ahmdedzai, a senior manager in monitoring, evaluation and research in AKF and a student on the current MSc programme said that he can already see a difference in the way he looks at information or analyses information in designing strategies in his role as a programme manager. Student representatives of the current course namely, Hadi Hashemi and Rudoba Rahmatova, said that all the participants who are studying on this programme while managing their full time jobs are very committed and that, as they take more responsibility and reach leadership positions in the organisation, this learning will be definitely useful. Dr Shama Dossa, senior manager of monitoring, evaluation and research within AKF Afghanistan said that this is a very important initiative for the organisation that has already taken steps to facilitate all the participants on the programme by allowing some time for them to study, research and work on assessments. 

All members of Bradford and AKF teams thanked Ms Mawani for taking time off her very busy schedule to drop by to the lecture and meet with all the participants.

 

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