context:the population of Afghanistan is largely computer illiterate. Given that computers are used in modern society as the basic tool for keeping track of records and collating information, UNDP has initiated a project to establish ICT training centres in the major population centres of Afghanistan.
what: the Least Developed Countries Initiative (LDC) was introduced in July, 2000 as a program to provide opportunities for IT training in an effort to bridge the digital divide in the LDCs of the world. Following the G-8 Summit, Cisco Systems, Inc., United Nations Development Program, the US Agency for International Development (Leland Initiative/EDDI), and United Nations Volunteers (UNITeS), announced the formation of this strategic partnership to help train students in LDCs for jobs in the internet economy. The addition of the International Telecommunication Union in 2002 signalled even further support for the program.
how: these partnerships have created opportunities for skills development in participating countries, empowering them to accelerate progress, attain sustainable development, and fully integrate into the world economy. While many countries share common challenges to development and goals for high-tech training, each one has a unique perspective on creating an IT academy. Cisco Networking Academies throughout LDCs have contributed profiles of their countries, academies, instructors, and students to enrich international understanding. Regional reports and instructor training offer an up-to-date view of the progress of this initiative.
Afghanistan: IT and computer training has been targeted at Afghan civil servants, women and the population at large. The aim of the project is to empower Afghanis with the computer skills necessary to eventually play a greater role in projects started by donor organisations. Over 2,500 Afghanis are expected to take part in the initial training. Women will comprise 45% of those trained, and men will be 55% of the total. Four training centres have been established: two in Kabul, one in Mazar-e-Sharif, and one in Kandahar, with a third centre in Kabul underway. A partnership with private sector ICT training centres in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kandahar raises the capacity of the UNDP-managed centres to about 1,000 students, mainly civil servants and NGO staff. A Cisco Networking Academy has been established at the University of Kabul that offers an internationally recognised IT degree programme in the Faculty of Science.
Kabul, April 17, 2003: Afghanistan is now producing internationally certified information technology specialists, one third of them women. Six women and 11 men graduated from the University of Kabul's new Cisco Networking Academy, earning the first industry-standard certification for computer networking ever offered in the country. The event was a milestone for Afghan women, shut out of public life by the former Taliban regime and its radical interpretation of Islamic law. The new academy fills a critical void for women and men alike. UNDP and network hardware vendor Cisco Systems launched the academy in October 2003 to create a core of Afghan specialists who can help move the country onto the digital highway. Cisco Systems trained the Afghan teachers and provided networking equipment for the academy. UNDP supported the training, supplied computer hardware and forged the partnership with the university.
Kabul, July 18, 2004: a ceremony held at Kabul University announced the promotion of Kabul University Cisco Networking Academy from a Local to a Regional Academy. This will enable the Kabul University Computer Science Cisco Networking Academy to prepare more trainers as Cisco Instructors. As a result, thousands of dollars spent on training instructors abroad will be saved, and the new Regional Academy can offer instructor training to neighbouring countries in central Asia. At the ceremony, which awarded certificates in networking to 113 students - 66 women and 47 men – speakers, including Government officials, emphasised the importance and the need for information technology specialists in Afghanistan’s future.