ANSF Literacy Program: The Afghan National Security Forces in the Central & Eastern Provinces of Afghanistan, August 2010-December 2014
United Alliance Global Solutions
House #333, 2nd Street, Sher Ali Khan Road
United Alliance Global Solutions (UAGS) is a licensed Afghan company based in Kabul, Afghanistan. UAGS performed literacy training as a subcontractor to OT Training Solutions, a US-based prime contractor for the ANSF Literacy Program. This contract was awarded to OT Training Solutions in August 2010 and concluded with the end of the ISAF mission in December 2014. UAGS was awarded the subcontract to perform literacy training in the central eastern provinces of Afghanistan March 2012.
Upon award of the subcontract, UAGS was directed to fulfill the literacy needs of the ANSF by providing qualified instructors, master trainers, and management staff that could organize and conduct literacy classes according to the varying availability of the ANSF, whether in classroom settings or remote outposts. The initial focus of the program was to have an observable and positive impact on the low literacy level within the ANSF. As a part of this project, our staff designed and implemented a literacy curriculum and program of instruction (POI) that met Afghan grade level equivalencies for grades one through three while providing flexibility to adhere to the varying schedules and time availability of the soldiers and police of the ANSF. The POI was approved by the prime contractor, the United States Government, and the Afghan Ministry of Education.
Initially, and for several years, the program was conducted using a “continuous” education approach. Soldiers and police were able to attend training according to their wartime duties. If they were called away for periods of time to conduct missions, they returned and resumed their studies with the same instructors, and graduated according to their abilities. Generally, with the central and eastern provinces, over 1,300 literacy classes per month were conducted during the first two years of the program. In February 2013, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) decreased the size of the program, primarily in outlying areas, bringing the size of the program to approximately 800 classes per month. From January 2014 to the conclusion of the program in December 2014, the program was again downsized by NTM-A. Following the last reduction in training, NTM-A required mandatory training hours for all soldiers and police regardless of their individual rates of learning. This was contrary to the conduct of the program for the first couple of years. Given an increase in their security responsibilities with conflicting opportunities to attend training consistently according to a fixed schedule, the ANSF found it challenging to meet mandatory hourly training requirements. As the results demonstrate, the proven method of “continuous” education, allowing soldiers and police to achieve academic results based on individualized learning was highly effective. The latter approach of requiring mandatory training time in a wartime environment often made literacy training inaccessible to many members of the ANSF who were not in a garrison situation. It is important to note, that the decisions to downsize this program was made by NTM-A based on a declining Coalition Forces presence. Both the ANA and ANP continuously requested increases in the scope of training. Additionally, over a two-year period beginning in October 2012, UAGS was told to begin transitioning ANP training to the German-based company GIZ. An arrangement had been made between NTM-A and the German Government to provide literacy training for policemen only.
As will be discussed below, UAGS achieved excellent academic results in a reasonable amount of time using a performance-based approach. This approach, without a doubt, led to greater opportunities for training and higher levels of success within the ANSF. We are proud to have been a part of such an important educational milestone for the people of Afghanistan.
I. Illiteracy in the Afghanistan National Security Forces
A. Background and General Observations
Several credible sources, from the World Bank to the United Nations, regularly publish literacy statistics on Afghanistan. Generally, the estimations indicate that the adult literacy rate for adults (age 15 and above) is around 34%. In 2012, the Afghan Ministry of Education, Literacy Department stated that in in rural areas, where 74% of all Afghans reside, at least 63% of the men and 90% of the women cannot read, write, or complete basic math calculations.
Since becoming involved in literacy training for the ANSF, the United Alliance Global Solutions education team has gathered and analyzed a myriad of data on literacy rates, academic achievement, effective training methods for adult learners, and effective approaches for literacy training to the members of the ANSF. While the sources mentioned above quote high levels of illiteracy for the country as a whole, our experience and data suggests an even higher rate of illiteracy existed within the ANSF. The men and women who enter the security forces, especially at the lower enlisted ranks, are mostly illiterate. Most are not able to read, write, or recognize their names in their native language. Interestingly, we have encountered adults who possessed conversational English skills, but could not demonstrate basic literacy in either Dari or Pashtu. We have found that while most (over 90%) of the soldiers and police entering the ANSF at the basic level are illiterate, they are very interested in learning, with thousands of soldiers and police completing the training since 2010, making for a more effective force than in past years. Our literacy training methodology has evolved over the years and, considering the variables mentioned above, we have a solid and effective method of assisting the ANSF to advance educationally.
Improving education is undeniably one of the greatest components of social change. It allows people to communicate, absorb information, and solve problems. Afghanistan is a key region of the world that must not be guided by extremist groups that thrive on illiteracy. Frankly, when people cannot read, they rely on interpretations from others. If they cannot write, they have a very limited way of communicating and impacting positive change. If they cannot calculate, they risk never being treated fairly in life. Illiteracy is a haven for those who wish to oppress. This is absolutely the situation in Afghanistan and applies to those who serve in the Afghan National Security Forces.
B. Observed Illiteracy in the Central and Eastern Regions
UAGS had the opportunity to develop and implement a large-scale literacy program within Afghanistan, primarily in the central and eastern regions. Most of our staff had been involved in literacy training since 2008. We had the honor to train thousands of ANSF members and assist them in achieving literacy.
Over the course of the past few years, we have accumulated a great deal of data relating to the literacy issues facing the ANSF. As the men and women of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police were enrolled in the literacy program, they were given an initial placement assessment. This test was designed to measure their current level of literacy, and for those below the 3rd grade level, they began literacy training if their unit allowed. It is important to note that not all ANSF members automatically got the opportunity to attend literacy classes. This was determined by their commander, and related to the US approving and funding classes in their area, and the operational tempo of the war.
As an example of illiteracy within the UAGS area of operations (central and eastern Afghanistan), the table below (Table 1) is a description of the magnitude of illiteracy and the soldiers who were tested and received basic literacy training as they entered the ANA at the Kabul Military Training Center. The table reflects nearly over a four-year period, from October 2010 to December 2014. As part of the literacy program at KMTC, soldiers were assessed to determine their level of literacy as they arrived to begin their service in the Afghan National Army. The overwhelming majority of the new recruits were illiterate. The literacy screening assessment measured the soldiers’ Afghan grade-level literacy up to the third grade. If soldiers demonstrated first grade literacy by scoring 70% or above on the first grade portion of the assessment, they were not eligible to receive training. However, as shown below, most soldiers did not demonstrate even 1st grade literacy according to Afghan educational standards. The majority of the soldiers could not read, write, or recognize their name or identification number.
Table 1. Afghan National Army BWT Initial Literacy Assessments
The achievement rate, first grade literacy, was high for soldiers who were able to complete the training. When allowed and available to attend literacy instruction for approximately 64 hours, most soldiers were able to achieve a first grade level of literacy within their basic training period. It is important to note that the opportunity to complete the literacy program was not available to all BWT trainees. While most ANA commanders and Coalition Forces advisors welcomed this important training and placed a high priority on it, it was not mandatory. Some units placed other training as a higher priority or deployed to the field having only completed part of the course. Of most importance, the graduation rate of soldiers completing the course of study was significant. Almost 90% of the BWT new inductees who completed the 1st grade course of study were able to graduate and receive a 1st grade diploma. This diploma is recognized by the Afghan Ministry of Education and reported to them. The figure below (Table 2) illustrates the noteworthy achievements by the ANA soldiers who were able to complete the 1st grade course of study at KMTC during their basic training.
Table 2. ANA KMTC BWT Graduation/Completion Data
II. ANSF Literacy Program
A. United Alliance Global Solutions (UAGS) Background and Area of Operations
From October 2008 to September 2010 (under a previous US contract), the US-based contractor, OT Training Solutions (OTTS), conducted literacy training for the Afghan National Army, countrywide. In October 2010, as part of a new IDIQ contract funded by the United States Government, OTTS was awarded a new IDIQ contract to perform literacy training for both the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. United Alliance Global Solutions (UAGS), an Afghan-owned and licensed company, was subcontracted by OTTS in March 2012 to provide all literacy instructors, Master Trainers, support staff, and educational data management services. As illustrated in Figure 1 (below), UAGS provided management personnel, instructional staff, and educational materials to the 15 provinces of Afghanistan’s central and eastern regions.
Figure 1. UAGS Literacy Program Area, Central & Eastern Provinces of Afghanistan
UAGS was hired to provide quality instructors, a fully operational education staff capable of achieving excellent academic results, while ensuring the utmost in accountability. During the course of the program, UAGS provided over 1,200 qualified and vetted staff members to serve the various needs of this large-scale training program. The UAGS staff of Afghans worked with the US prime contractor in exceeding the expectations of the deliverables and coordinating the training requirements that often exceeded over 40,000 members of ANSF on a monthly basis. At the height of the program, soon after being awarded the contract, UAGS had literacy instruction occurring at hundreds of separate of training locations on a daily basis within the central and eastern provinces of Afghanistan. Additionally, UAGS ensured that all teacher materials and student materials were onsite and resupplied, even in the most extreme wartime environments. UAGS designed and implemented accountability and quality control standards that were exemplary and will be discussed below.
B. Conduct and Results
To support the literacy needs of the ANSF, the literacy program was designed and initially conducted using the “continuous education” approach. This approach to training allowed soldiers to learn and advance according to their individual learning styles and availability for training. Soldiers progressed through the grades as the wartime mission allowed. This was a performance-based approach that was not dependent on the soldiers and police attending classes for set periods of time that may or may not fit their wartime duties. The students attended literacy classes when they were available and received instruction according to their individual academic level and progressed through grades one through three.
In January 2014, the program approach was modified to include that ANSF students be grouped into grade-level classes that meet for a prescribed amount of hours before advancing to the next level or graduating. In order for a class to graduate, the class is required to obtain the amount of training listed in the Performance of Work Statement (PWS).
The program was monitored by NTM-A according to the number of classes conducted each month. NTM-A required monthly reports on specific classes only, not on individual academic or attendance data. The ANSF did not have a personnel system available to house individual records. UAGS maintained detailed attendance and academic records for all classes and students. In order to assess individual academic achievement, teacher effectiveness, and attendance, UAGS collected, maintained, and analyzed detailed student records using a company-designed database.
In order to report on the program it is necessary to discuss both classes and academic results. Within the ANSF Literacy Program, classes were the United States Government’s primary unit of measure in tracking, oversight, and payment for services. Academic results, at both the class and individual student levels, are significantly important. For the purpose of this report, academic results will be primarily discussed in the form of grade-level graduations. During the course of this four-year program, ANSF classes did not always have fixed groups of students progressing as “classes” through courses. For that reason, reporting on their academic progress as fixed groups would not be an accurate analysis or description of the program.
NTM-A G7 Literacy Branch designed and utilized a spreadsheet that captured monthly data at the class level. A class was defined as a group of soldiers or police. The makeup of the classes often changed according to the wartime requirements of the unit. For example a class of 30 soldiers may have 10 soldiers that attend every day, 10 soldiers that attend once or twice a week, and 10 soldiers that go to the front lines for a month, then return. The NTM-A spreadsheet did not capture individual student achievement. For quality control and accountability purposes, UAGS captured and maintained individual student records and analyzed the data. In order to evaluate student learning, and for teacher effectiveness monitoring, individual monitoring was important. Although never required to do so, UAGS viewed maintaining and analyzing individualized achievements as a necessary component of overall accountability, quality control, and results reporting. When training schedules vary dramatically from day to day and students are frequently on schedules that must fit around wartime missions, individual data must be collected and analyzed to accurately describe academic successes or the lack thereof.
The chart below (Figure 2) illustrates the number of literacy classes conducted from January 2012 to December 2014. As you’ll note, the program progressed steadily with an average of 1,300 classes per month until February 2013.
Additionally in February 2013, NTM-A G7 began the implementation of a plan to transition ANP literacy classes to the German-based GIZ. UAGS began transferring responsibility for our literacy classes over the course of a year and was completed by the end of the program in December 2014. When reviewing the class data in this report, the transition of ANP classes to GIZ must be considered. OTTS does not collect or analyze data from GIZ.
Figure 2. UAGS Class Data
In February 2013, NTM-A G7 Literacy Branch stated that we must reduce the training effort to a smaller size. UAGS was not required to close specific training sites, but was directed to reduce the size of the program by approximately 25 percent. Following this downsize, UAGS consistently performed approximately 800 classes per month (Figure 3, below) for the remainder of 2013.
In January 2014, the prime contractor was informed that an internal NTM-A “paperwork delay” led to our task order not being issued in a timely manner and subsequently a lack of funding for the month of January. UAGS was directed to only conduct 1st grade classes for initial entry soldiers and police primarily at Kabul Military Training Center and the Regional Police Training Center. All other classes (approximately 700) were postponed until the situation could be resolved. UAGS was authorized to conduct only 109 first grade classes for the month of January 2014.
Additionally, in January 2014, NTM-A G7 informed the prime contractor that the performance-based “continuous education” approach would no longer be used, and would be replaced by a mandatory attendance approach. The ANSF literacy classes were to be grouped according to grade levels and serve only fixed-groups of soldiers and police. NTM-A stated that this approach would require the ANSF to commit to more literacy training if soldiers and police were required to be in specific grade-level classes for set periods of time. The prime contractor alongside UAGS professional educators voiced our disagreement with this approach, stating that this restructure would eliminate many opportunities for literacy training to soldiers with varying schedules. We also voiced that such a change shifted a very successful program that was based on academic performance to a program that was attendance based. We agreed that more training time would certainly enhance the literacy effort and make for a better force. However, the reality of the wartime environment in Afghanistan is that the ANSF has security tasks and missions that sometimes take priority over training and unit commanders need flexibility. We presented research and program historical data to support our position and received support and agreement from the Afghan ministries. However, the decision to modify the contract was made by the Contracting Officer (whose duty station was in Qatar), and the prime contractor and UAGS complied with the directive. To meet the requirements of this modification, UAGS reorganized our instructors and staff to meet the new requirements, assisted the ANA and ANP in identifying new classes and preparing new training schedules, and organized the ANSF units into grade-level classes.
From January to December 2014, due to the newly imposed mandatory “time” requirements for graduation, fewer ANSF members had the opportunity to complete the literacy program than in previous years. However, UAGS was committed to working within the new restrictions and finding solutions that allowed as many ANSF students as possible achieve literacy and graduate. As the figure above (Figure 2) describes, UAGS was able to work with the Ministry of Defense and unit-level commanders and coordinate an average of approximately 400 classes per month.
3. Academic Results
Again, for the purpose of this program report, academic data will be described according to grade-level graduations within the ANSF. Although not required by the contract, UAGS maintained academic records on soldiers and police as they progressed through the program. Below (Figure 5) is a summary of ANSF grade-level graduations from the start of the program in August 2010 to December 2014, when the program ended as part of the end of the ISAF mission. Within the UAGS area of operations, the central and eastern provinces, there were 294,684 grade-level graduations by members of the Afghan National Security Forces, with 54,909 being third grade graduations. According to Ministry of Education standards, an Afghan is deemed literate after completing the academic requirements and testing for the third grade.
Figure 3. UAGS Graduation Data
As described above, nearly 300,000 grade level graduations occurred during the past over four-year period. Due to the design of the contract, limited training time, and the low levels of initial illiteracy with the ANSF, the class completed most often was first grade. However, given the complexities that go alongside education with a wartime mission, many soldiers and police (54,909) were able to become completely literate due to this program. Achieving first grade literacy was significant. This translated from having little to no literacy skills when they joined the ANSF to being able to read and write their names, sentences, and perform basic math calculations. Achieving second and third grade literacy clearly put them in a position for advancement within the ranks. The ability to become literate during their term of service to their country within the ANSF (whether short term or for a career) will have lifelong meaning. UAGS found that the members of the ANSF were eager to learn and given the opportunity become literate, they did so. Within the four-year period of this particular literacy program, UAGS had over a 90% graduation rate across all grade levels.
A. Afghan National Army
While the ANSF Literacy Program was one US Government funded IDIQ contract, UAGS conducted literacy training for the ANA and ANP separately. The Ministry of Defense Religious and Cultural Affairs (RCA) department guided soldier participation in ANA literacy program. During the first two years of the program, UAGS had literacy instructors and staff at any location (regardless of the conditions) that soldiers could complete the training. This often meant assigning literacy instructors to the unit (kandak) level who moved with those units throughout their field assignments. UAGS took great care in selecting literacy teachers that could relate to the duties and responsibilities of the ANA soldiers, operate under extreme conditions, and provide results. The ANA was very supportive of literacy training and immediately saw the need and benefits of having a literate force. It could be assumed that soldiers in garrison may have more time and availability to attend literacy training than those in field-based units. UAGS’s analysis of both academic and attendance data shows the contrary. Soldiers in field-based units attended literacy classes more consistently and dedicated more training time to literacy than Kabul-based garrison units.
Using a performance-based approach to training yielded significant academic results within the ANA. When soldiers were permitted and encouraged to progress through the program according to their abilities without mandatory attendance requirements, they flourished. When held to attendance mandates, that would have been difficult to meet under the best of conditions, fewer soldiers had the ability to enroll in training. In many cases, due to their wartime missions, ANA unit commanders were not able to commit a fixed amount of time each day to literacy training. In our experience, unless the ANA conducts literacy training at a pre-deployment center, such as KMTC, educational programs must be oriented on outcomes not attendance. The academic results compiled by UAGS, and current educational research in general, supports this view. The figure below (Figure 6) describes the number of graduations achieved by ANA soldiers in our area of operations, the central and eastern provinces, from the start of the program to its end in December 2014.
Figure 4. ANA Graduation Data
B. Afghan National Police
Again, UAGS utilized a separate group of instructors to conduct literacy training for the ANP. The ANP trained in a myriad of settings, from small outposts in remote areas, local police stations, to large classrooms at Ministry of Interior training centers. The ANP typically had “shifts” of police involved in the training and routinely trained for two hours each day prior to starting their duty. Like the ANA, the ANP often had schedules that changed as a result of the operational tempo of the war and thrived when under a performance-based approach to training. Additionally, many of the ANP students were encouraged to complete the entire literacy course of study (first through third grade), whereas many ANA soldiers completed first grade only as part of their initial entry basic training. The ANP did not have such a basic training program. The academic achievements by the ANP are very noteworthy. As Figure 5 (below) describes, even during a year and a half long transition period with consistently declining enrollment, UAGS awarded 90,326 literacy graduation certificates with 20,114 being third grade graduates.
In 2013, as part of the transition plan by NTM-A, the German-based company Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusanmenarbeit (GIZ) began to assume responsibility for ANP literacy classes. They started with three relatively stable provinces (Bamyan, Parwan, and Panshir) and continued to
transition one to two more provinces monthly. As of December 2014, UAGS conducted training in Kabul province only. Thus, the data reported below (Figure 5) are not reflective of a consistent training effort within a fixed area of operations. These numbers represent training conducted by UAGS only under a transition plan.
Figure 5. ANA Graduation Data
UAGS staff developed the literacy curriculum used by all contractors. Upon award of the contract, the US Government (NTM-A G7) requested that the prime contractor develop a comprehensive literacy curriculum to meet the specific needs of the Afghan National Security Forces. The soldiers and policemen of the ANSF required an instructional program that was flexible, while offering the opportunity to achieve academic advancement in an ever-changing environment. As the subcontractor in Afghanistan, UAGS staff members worked in conjunction with leaders from the Ministry of Education Literacy Department to continuously update and revise the curriculum. It was distributed to the other companies to be used as the standard course of study for the literacy program.
At the request of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/G-7 through the prime contractor, UAGS also developed curricula for several advanced courses in algebra, economics, budget analysis, and basic programming that were taught to select company and field grade officers within the Ministry of Defense. This advanced curriculum was available in English, Dari, and Pashto.
B. Literacy Program of Instruction (POI)
UAGS developed a literacy program of instruction that was in alignment with Afghan educational goals. In Afghanistan, literacy is generally defined as the ability to read and write basic words, sentences, and short paragraphs, and compute basic numerals. According to the Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE), the standard for literacy attainment is completion of the 3rd grade curriculum.
Members of the ANSF require a program that accommodates diverse learners with varying availabilities for training. UAGS developed and implemented a literacy program of instruction that focused on learning outcomes, per Afghan grade, that also considered that many ANSF members may only be able to attend training for a couple of hours per day, at best. Additionally, the students had to have the ability to progress at their own rate of learning, have an opportunity to earn single grade-level completion certificates, or complete the entire literacy course of study from grades one through three.
As described below (Table 2), UAGS implemented a POI based on phases of instruction per grade level. Each phase was related to specific academic outcomes. The hours of instruction per level are associated with a general amount of time the ANSF stated that could be dedicated to literacy training.
Table 2. Literacy Program of Instruction
C. Advanced Curriculum
At the request of NTM-A and in coordination with the Ministry of Defense, UAGS staff developed curricula for senior staff officers. UAGS conducted extensive meetings with NTM-A and Ministry of Defense education officials, conducted a detailed needs analysis, and designed four courses of study (Table 3). These courses were available to be taken separately or as a complete course of study, with many officers requesting the complete course of study. The following courses make up the advanced curriculum:
Table 3. Advanced Curriculum
D. Textbooks and Supplemental Materials
UAGS provided all books and student materials, and utilized approved Ministry of Education textbooks according to Afghan grade levels. To promote the retention of knowledge and future learning, books and materials became the personal property of the students.
Each soldier or policeman received the appropriate textbook according to his or her native language (Dari or Pashtu). They also received notebooks, pens, and pencils.
All UAGS classrooms contained the following items:
Multi-colored whiteboard markers
Teacher lesson plan book
Teacher training kit with the following items:
1. Alphabet chart
2. Numbers chart
3. Geometric chart
4. Measurements chart
OTTS conducts literacy training in hundreds of separate locations on a monthly basis. Many of these classes are conducted in remote and hostile locations. Ensuring the logistical needs of the literacy program is vital for success.
A. Instructional Approach Used By UAGS
The UAGS literacy program utilized a learner-centered approach to instruction that was based on measurable academic standards, or outcomes, of student performance. Literacy classes were tailored to meet the individual needs of each ANSF student. The UAGS program assessed each student’s current literacy level and conducted instruction according to their individual abilities, and availability to attend classes.
Instruction that is learner-centered allows students to engage in the learning process and advance based on their individual learning styles and varying degrees of availability for training. Student success is measured based on clearly defined academic outcomes in keeping with Afghan education standards.
Historically, learner-centered instruction has not been the norm in Afghanistan. In order to achieve high academic results, UAGS trained all instructors to use research-based teaching techniques that facilitate learning, and UAGS instructors attended ongoing professional development seminars conducted at our regional offices. Master Trainers, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, conducted these training seminars on a regular basis. UAGS Master Trainers also provided onsite training to teachers in remote locations.
B. Instructional Model Used By UAGS
Over the past several years, UAGS successfully implemented a literacy program of instruction and conducted classes for the ANSF. These years of experience, combined with a team of education professionals, has afforded UAGS the opportunity to mold the literacy program to the unique culture of Afghanistan, and specifically the needs of the ANSF.
UAGS recognized early on that the ANSF relies on the internal motivation of individuals as a key component to a successful literacy program. As part of the outcomes-based approach to training, UAGS utilized a research-based motivational instructional delivery model. This model (ARCS Model of Motivational Design) focuses on four steps that promote the learning process:
Attention: In order for the student to engage in a lesson, instructors first gain the learner’s attention. To stimulate learning, the instructor uses a variety of techniques to actively engage the student.
Relevance: The instruction is connected to the goal of the lesson and the future lives of the soldiers and policemen, to include life after their service to the ANSF.
Confidence: The students must be instilled with a sense of confidence that they can meet the goals of instruction and ultimately be successful.
Satisfaction: The students must have a sense of satisfaction that the material they are learning has application and will be useful as a soldier or policeman.
C. Teaching Techniques Used By UAGS
1. Active Teaching & Learning
ANSF students discuss and formulate their own questions related to their individual life experiences. The teacher facilitates discussions in which the students discuss and explain their thoughts and ideas during class. Whole class discussions then become the basis for achieving the literacy learning objectives.
2. Cooperative Teaching & Learning:
Students work in small groups assisting one another on literacy tasks. The teachers closely monitor the small groups, providing guidance and assistance. This method promotes both interdependence and individual accountability, traits needed by members of the ANSF.
3. Inductive Teaching & Learning:
The teacher presents the ANSF students with real-world scenarios related to the literacy learning objectives. The students acquire the new knowledge by discussing its applicability to situations that they are likely to observe in their work as soldiers and policemen.
Research clearly demonstrates that learner-centered instruction, that connects meaningful information and life experiences to new knowledge, is the most effective educational approach. This is especially true in Afghanistan with the ANSF, where soldiers and policemen thirst for knowledge, have limited time, and come from various cultural backgrounds. OTTS incorporates these factors into the instructional delivery process of the literacy program.
ANSF students were given an initial placement test as soon as they were enrolled in the literacy program. UAGS used a learner-based approach to training, so it was important to assess each student and determine his or her individual academic level and learning needs.
1. Initial Placement Test (Pretest)
The initial placement test comprises 70 questions that assess the students’ literacy level. The test measures skills in reading, writing, and math. The test was designed by a combination of people, to include: UAGS Master Teachers, Ministry of Education officials, and representatives from NTM-A G7. Students who passed the test with a score of 70% or higher were considered to be literate to a 3rd grade level and were not enrolled in the program. The majority of the ANSF students tested by UAGS failed the test and required literacy services. Most were illiterate and scored below the 1st grade level.
2. Formative Assessments (Ongoing).
Because UAGS used a learner-centered teaching approach, several forms of formative assessments occurred during a course of study. Teachers assessed the students as they participated in whole group discussions, small groups, and as individuals. Soldiers were administered a standardized test to ensure they had mastered the skills to progress through the phases and levels of the Program of Instruction.
3. Summative Assessments (Posttest).
ANSF members received a summative assessment upon completion of each course of study. In keeping with guidance from NTM-A, the summative assessment is identical to the pretest initially used to gauge the students’ level of literacy.
V. UAGS Educational Management & Staff
UAGS has a highly qualified management team leading the company’s projects to include the recent literacy program. This program alone once had over 1,200 Afghan local national employees. The UAGS education management team has prior experience in teaching, higher education, education administration, the military and police, and operations. Our all-Afghan workforce provided a sustainable and long-term solution to the literacy needs of the ANSF. We look forward to utilizing the same structure in future opportunities.
1. Director of Educational & Capacity Development Programs
Our Director of Educational & Capacity Development Programs directs the education and capacity development sectors of our company by drawing upon his forty years of experience in academia, cultural affairs, government, and education. Born and raised in Kabul, he has the unique ability to work with various ministries, nongovernmental organizations, and private companies to develop and implement plans and projects that truly work toward the development and sustainability of the people of Afghanistan. He is a graduate of Habibia High School and attended Kabul University prior to going to the United States for higher education. He also received advanced degrees in the United States from the University of Cincinnati, to include; a Masters degree in guidance and counseling with a concentration in higher education, and a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies in counseling and psychology, with an emphasis in multi-cultural and global education.
2. Director of Operations & Training
Our Director of Operations & Training supervises the operations of the company’s leadership staff and directs the daily activities of the company’s projects, to include ensuring that all training classes were conducted effectively by managing the efforts of over 600 employees. This individual has over seven years of management experience, and over five years of educational program management experience. He earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from Kardan University, and is fluent in Dari, Pashto, and English.
1. Literacy Training Coordinators:
UAGS had two Literacy Training Coordinators (one for the ANA and ANP) who coordinated and prepared training schedules, made arrangements for new classes, and monitored and reported attendance and academic results for their separate programs.
2. Site Leaders:
Due to the size of the Afghan National Army literacy program and the need to constantly plan and interact with members of the Coalition Forces, Ministry of Defense, and local ANA unit commanders, UAGS had five Site Leaders, one per major unit area. The Site Leaders coordinated the training and logistical needs for all literacy classes within their area. They reported directly to the ANA Literacy Training Coordinator.
3. Senior Master Teachers:
UAGS had two Senior Master Teachers (ANA & ANP). These individuals served as a direct link to the students and teachers of the program. They routinely inspected and visited classes and reported directly to the program management staff on issues relating to the success and advancement of the students and staff. The Senior Master Teachers each had over 30 years of experience in Afghan education, both public school and the ANSF.
4. Master Teachers:
Master Teachers were the direct supervisors of classroom teachers. UAGS recently had 21 Master Teachers, 16 with the ANA and 5 with the ANP. The Master Teachers served as instructional leaders at the major training locations throughout UAGS’s training area. They generally supervised the activities of 20-30 teachers. Due to the different structures of the ANA and ANP, the size of the programs, and the required oversight needs, the ANA literacy program had a larger number of Master Teachers. The ANP program is more dispersed and required a greater number of instructional leaders covering smaller geographical areas, which was covered by the Lead Teachers.
5. Lead Teachers:
In several UAGS instructional areas, Lead Teachers were utilized to supervise approximately 5-10 teachers. Some training locations, especially within the Afghan National Police, were located in very remote areas. In these cases, Lead Teachers monitored the academic progress and reported directly to Master Teachers. Within the ANA at Kabul Military Training Center, Lead Teachers were assigned to supervise teachers and monitor the progress of Basic Warrior Training kandaks.
To support this large-scale literacy program, UAGS most recently employed over 600 teachers. These teachers conducted literacy classes for the ANSF at hundreds of different locations throughout the central eastern provinces of Afghanistan, with many classes being conducted in remote and hostile locations. UAGS teachers were vetted, approved by the Ministry of Defense and/or Ministry of Interior, and maintained certification from the Ministry of Education.
C. Supporting Departments & Staff
To support the personnel, administrative, and logistical needs of the program, UAGS had a full staff of program support personnel, to include:
1. Human Resources:
All employees were legally employed in compliance with Afghan labor laws and policies. The HR Department ensured that employee contracts were administered correctly, to include proper vetting and background checks, and work history and credential verification. Employees were paid on a monthly basis using bank direct deposit, with the HR Department ensuring that employee wage taxes were withheld and paid to the Afghan government.
In support of the educational and personnel requirements of the program, UAGS had two executive administrative assistants and eight administrative assistants. These personnel primarily performed clerical functions. They were skilled in preparing written reports and data-entry.
2. Quality Assurance:
UAGS conducted both announced and unannounced quality assurance (QA) inspections on literacy classes. The QA program ensured that monthly quality assurance inspections were documented and that any deficiencies were reported to the program management office in a timely manner. As an additional measure, UAGS had applicable officials within the ANA and ANP local units verify and confirm each inspection. Master Teachers and members of the management team generally conducted quality assurance inspections. These inspections were made available and reported to the US Government and applicable Afghan ministries.
As discussed previously, UAGS provided all textbooks, student materials, testing materials, and teacher materials to support literacy training for approximately 42,000 soldiers and policemen on a monthly basis. Classes were conducted from major training centers to very remote and hostile locations. Supplying the necessary resources to conduct literacy training in a wartime environment was a vital function of the program. ANSF students must have materials to achieve academic success. UAGS maintained a book depository and used various transportation methods to ensure that materials were onsite at each separate training location.
4. Educational Data Management:
UAGS maintained very thorough records to document the academic and attendance records of all students. Despite the lack of a centralized data management system within the Afghan government, UAGS designed and maintained a comprehensive web based data management system. ANA and ANP students routinely move from one geographical area to another with very little official documentation. To keep a permanent record of literacy academic achievements, UAGS designed and implemented a database for educational records. UAGS maintained complete education data on all ANSF students enrolled in the program. The program management office had a Data Manager who possesses a Masters degree in Information Technology to supervise the data monitoring and accountability of all students. As requested, on a monthly basis, UAGS submitted academic and attendance reports to several agencies, to include: the US Government, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, and Ministry of Education.
Share with your friends: