To talk about the beginning of the cooperation between the IEE and the Faculty of Economics in Kabul means to go back to the very roots of the Institute itself: This cooperation dates back to the founding days of the IEE in the mid-1960s. Indeed, Afghanistan was the first regional focus for empirical research at the institute. From 1967 until the Soviet invasion of the country, IEE members contributed considerably to the teaching in the bachelor-of-economics programme of the Faculty of Economics in Kabul. Along with two other universities in Bonn and Cologne, the IEE administered and coordinated the cooperation between German and Afghan partners. Unfortunately, with the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979, the cooperation with the country came to a sudden halt. Nevertheless, the contacts between the institute and the Afghan people remained. The IEE became an important address for Afghan refugees in Germany searching for and finding administrative and humanitarian support at the institute. But at that time social commitment was only one of the many ways in which we tried to keep in touch. The IEE, continuously motivated by its former executive director Ernst-Albrecht von Renesse and its funding director Prof. Willy Kraus, conserved partly its scientific interest in Afghanistan, as demonstrated by conferences and meetings in Germany analysing the chances for a future reconstruction of the country after the hoped-for end of the civil war. With the seeming stability of Afghanistan under the Taleban regime, efforts were made to restart communication with the Afghan colleagues at the Faculty of Economics in Kabul. But it took until 2000, when Prof. N. Shahidie, Dean of the faculty at the time, was able to visit the old partner universities of Bochum, Bonn and Cologne with the financial support of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for the first time.
During the years 2001/2002, the situation in Afghanistan changed again dramatically. The tragic events of 11th September 2001, the ensuing defeat of the Taleban regime and the establishment of the Afghan interim government of President Karzai all of a sudden opened up opportunities for a new phase of cooperation with our partners in Kabul. The German government made considerable efforts to support the reconstruction of Afghanistan, including the revival of academic cooperation. The IEE proved to be ready to contribute to this revival, particularly thanks to its long-term knowledge of and links to its Afghan partners. Prof. Löwenstein as a member of a DAAD delegation visited the Faculty of Economics in Kabul in April 2002 to explore the possibilities for a renewal of our co-operation. The first impressions of this journey were multi-faceted: The flight in a transport plane of the German Bundeswehr and destroyed houses in the City of Kabul were evidence of a certain degree of insecurity that still prevailed in Afghanistan's capital at that time. The lack of equipment in the Faculty gave an impression of the size of the task that lay ahead of the partners. On the other hand, several discussions with colleagues and students as well as the participation in a graduation ceremony at the Faculty of Economics were encouraging moments, emphasizing the significance of the long way ahead of us.
Photo: H.E. Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Dr. Sami Noor (centre)
The results achieved in recent years in the long-standing cooperation between RUB and the Afghan Ministry of Education were evaluated during a workshop and conferenc hosted by the IEE on November 19 - 21, 2008. The two-day workshop was attended by the Rectors of the Universities of Kabul, Balkh, Herat, Nangarhar and Khost and the Deans of their Faculties of Economics and Management.
The guests from Afghanistan together with Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Löwenstein and Dr. Sami Noor
Together with Afghan student professors currently engaged in the Lecturer Training and/or the MSc Programme at RUB, representatives of the DAAD and the World Bank as the main sponsors and the staff of the IEE, the guests from Afghanistan explored also future perspectives in German-Afghan academic cooperation. At the end of the two-days workshop the Rectors of the Universities of Kabul, Balkh, Herat, Nangarhar and Khost and the Deans of their Faculties of Economics and Management committed to implement the unified BSc curriculum in full with the beginning of the year 2010. In addition, they endorsed the proposal put forward by Prof. Löwenstein and the IEE staff to apply for formal accreditation of the BSc Programme in Management and Economics.
These and other decisions reached during the two-days workshop were presented to a larger audience on Friday, 21 November 2008 at a conference hosted by the IEE and RUB under the auspices of HE Prof. Dr. Maliha Zulfacar, the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Germany.
Panel Discussion at the Conference
Panelists (from left to right): Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Löwenstein, Dr. Alexander Kupfer (DAAD), HE Prof. Dr. Maliha Zulfacar, Prof. Dr. Hamidullah Amin (Rector Kabul University); Dr. Naim Assad (Rector Herat University) and Abdul Haj Sofizada (SHEP World Bank)
The Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Dadfar, Prof. Dr. Löwenstein and the Rectors of the Universities of Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Nangarhar, Kandahar and Khost invited the press to report on the achievements and perspectives of academic cooperation between Afghan universities and the Ruhr-University Bochum in Management and Economics. At the same occasion a far reaching 'Memorandum of Understanding' (see left - click to enlarge) was signed by all stakeholders which officially was put into operation by the Afghan Government in autumn 2009.
We are indebted to the German Foreign Office, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Ministry of Innovation, Research, Sciene and Technology for the continous support of the academic cooperation between RUB and the Afghan faculties of Economics and Business Administration.
IEE News: Documentation on Cooperation between RUB and Afghanistan, 2003-2008
IEE: Kooperation mit Afghanistan (published in "DAVO-Nachrichten", Bd. 28, 2008)