JOURNALISM TRAINING AT KABUL UNIVERSITY A presentation prepared by Professor Kazim Ahang, Dean of the Faculty of Journalism at Kabul University, for the JourNet conference, Newcastle, NSW, Australia. February, 2004
Greetings from Kabul, Afghanistan. This is Professor Kazim Ahang Dean of the Faculty of Journalism at Kabul University. It is with regret that I cannot be with you today at the JourNet conference in Newcastle, Australia. However, I thank you for the invitation and hope that your conference is successful and rewarding. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Kabul University and to the beautiful land of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is an ancient country that has known countless civilizations. It has places of great beauty and great historical significance and a multi-cultural population.
However, years of civil war have caused huge destruction in Afghanistan. The country is littered with war debris and landmines. Many parts of Kabul have been totally destroyed.
Even our cultural life was disrupted and the infrastructure of the media destroyed…
This is a cinema in west Kabul, once the front line in the fighting.
All our media equipment is old. Here is a street photographer, still making his living using a camera from last century.
And, until we received support from outside, this was the main equipment of our national news agency, Bakhtar.
Even the former UNESCO Educational Technology building was not spared.
However, now this is being re-built and will soon be used again for preparing and broadcasting distance education programmes.
And, of course, the best known case of cultural destruction are the Buddha statues of Bamiyan. Willfully destroyed by the Taliban. Treasures of the past, gone forever.
One sector particularly affected by years of war and repression was that of education. During Taliban times, girls could not attend schools, nor could women teachers go to work.
Kabul University is the main higher education institution in Afghanistan and is the oldest university in the country.
Our beautiful campus, full of trees and gardens, is situated in west Kabul. Fortunately, the civil war spared us major damage, although some parts of the campus were destroyed and the general infrastructure became decayed.
This is our main library. Even this building received war damage. Now, the cataloguing system is having to be started all over again and we are also seeking new textbooks and reference materials from all over the world.
Of course, nowadays every University needs access to the Internet. The first Internet connection on the campus came to us thanks to the generosity of the Government of Japan and UNESCO. We have established an Internet Café within the main library and this is used every day by students and teachers.
Now, let us take you on a journey through the Faculty of Journalism. But first, a few facts: • the Faculty of Journalism is one of the oldest at the University. This year, it celebrates its 40th anniversary. • currently, some 350 students are enrolled to study journalism. • students must complete 130 credit hours of study to be eligible for graduation. • the Faculty has two departments: Press and Radio/Television. • there are twelve Professors and Lecturers in the Faculty. • teaching is carried out at both the B.A. and M.A. levels. • a night school caters for students who cannot attend daytime lectures. Currently 55 students are enrolled in this mode. • other journalism and communication departments exist at Balkh University, in northern Afghanistan, and Herat University in the western part of the country.
This is one of the classrooms in our Faculty. At present, there are no students at the university because it is closed for winter. However, you can see that our facilities are basic.
Thanks to UNESCO and friends around the world, we now have a new library full of mass communication and journalism books.
These books came to us from academic institutions, friends and ordinary citizens worldwide after UNESCO put out an appeal on the Internet. If you sent some books, we sincerely thank you.
We also have our own small computer training centre which is for the young men and women who will be the next generation of journalists in Afghanistan. Here, they can be trained and also access information from overseas.
A recent addition to the Faculty of Journalism is an FM radio station. An FM broadcasting frequency has been granted and we are now training our teachers and students how to use the radio station. Soon, we hope to be broadcasting information and entertainment about the University to a wide part of the population of Kabul.
This, then, is the Faculty of Journalism at Kabul University. We hope that this brief introduction gives you a better idea of who we are and what we do. We are keen to be part of the global academic community and look forward to joining JourNet and other like-minded bodies. Support for the work of the Faculty comes from many sources, including UNESCO, Lille University in France, the Governments of the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America, as well as from media NGO’s, like Media Action International, the AINA Media Centre and others.
So, from Professor Ahang at my desk here in Kabul, thank you again for the invitation to join your conference. On behalf of all my colleagues, I send you our best wishes and with the hope that we can join with you again in the future. We are an optimistic and hospitable people and you are always welcome to visit us in Kabul. Goodbye…or as we say in Afghanistan, “Khuda Haafiz”
This presentation, was prepared for the JourNet conference in Newcastle • NSW by the Faculty of Journalism Kabul University with • the assistance of UNESCO Office Kabul. • Technical production: • Qadir Qayoumi and Latif Sayed • IT assistants • UNESCO Office Kabul.