This Time in Bamyan

Oct 12, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   university  //  2 Comments

Back in April of this year, my col­league, Una and I came to Bamyan for a needs assess­ment sur­vey at Bamyan Uni­ver­sity (here­after BU). The uni­ver­sity is located in the provin­cial cen­ter. The num­ber of stu­dents as per last April was over 1700. Its aca­d­e­mics are fac­ul­ties of Edu­ca­tion, Social Sci­ences, Agri­cul­ture, Geol­ogy. And fac­ul­ties of Com­puter Sci­ence, Jour­nal­ism and Health to open in 2012. We took a tour of BU’s old and new cam­puses. BU’s new cam­pus that was under con­struc­tion in our last trip is the most remote uni­ver­sity I have ever seen. My col­league vis­ited the girls’ dorm since I a man and not allowed into the girls’ dorm. Photo of ther­mal water heat­ing sys­tem at the girls’ dorm: I was impressed by the young and tal­ented fac­ulty mem­bers of the uni­ver­sity. They have been extremely help­ful and friendly. The aim of our visit was to assess the elec­tric­ity sit­u­a­tion at uni­ver­sity and then see how we could help. The uni­ver­sity has big gen­er­a­tors but the the donors who donated these gen­er­a­tors to them did not think about the fuel costs. One of the biggest chal­lenges for the uni­ver­sity is their fuel costs for the gen­er­a­tors. They have very lim­ited funds for it and they can’t run them more than four hours a day. They need to run the four com­puter labs they have for the uni­ver­sity stu­dents and the fac­ulty from at least 8am to 4pm. Insuf­fi­cient sup­ply of elec­tric­ity. Another mis­take that the pre­vi­ous donors have made is that they donated desk­top com­put­ers to them which require a lot of elec­tric­ity. In addi­tion to not­ing their elec­tric­ity prob­lems, we noticed that they needed more com­puter labs and inter­net for the over­whelm­ing num­ber of stu­dents. The new cam­pus had no com­puter lab or inter­net when we vis­ited. Another great chal­lenge of the uni­ver­sity was lack of local IT exper­tise. At the end of our 5-day sur­vey at BU, we shared our find­ings with our big bosses in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Luck­ily, they were able to fund two com­puter labs for the uni­ver­sity with a total of 40 energy effi­cient lap­tops, a com­plete solar sys­tem for the two com­puter labs and inter­net for one of the two labs. My col­league and I were also able to raise some money to finance two pro­fes­sors from Bamyan Uni­ver­sity and a few more peo­ple from other orga­ni­za­tions to attend a 2-week inten­sive train­ing on web­site man­age­ment in the cap­i­tal, Kabul which ended last Fri­day. Here we are again we arrived in Bamyan yes­ter­day morn­ing. We came here a few days ahead of the solar engi­neers to train the uni­ver­sity stu­dents and the staff in a bunch of tech tools, social media and map­ping tools and apps. There was also money bud­geted for 15 smart phones that we pur­chased in this project. It’s impor­tant for the stu­dents and the pro­fes­sors of social sci­ences depart­ment and oth­ers to learn how to use them when they are train­ing in social media and map­ping. We had a brief meet­ing with the deputy chan­cel­lor of BU late after­noon yes­ter­day and we’ll dis­cuss our sched­ule for the train­ing and an overview of the plan with them in more detail later this morn­ing. They will also help us to iden­tify stu­dents for the train­ing today. My awe­some col­league asked them to keep in mind gen­der bal­ance in iden­ti­fy­ing the trainees. They’ll be trained in four dif­fer­ent things: 1. Start­ing on the 16th, 2 days of Open­StreetMap train­ing which I will be giv­ing (Bamyan on OSM will hope­fully look like Jalal­abad on OSM one day). 2. Then 2 days of social media and blog­ging train­ing that Una will be giv­ing. 3. After that 2 days of train­ing in Crowdmap (an Ushahidi ini­ti­ated plat­form for dis­as­ter response and reports). 4. And finally when the solar engi­neers arrive on the 21st of Octo­ber, we’d like the trainees to be present there and see how they install the solar gear and the com­puter lab. It’s 2:45 in the morn­ing and I need to get some shut eye. But please look at the photo blog of Una about our yesterday’s won­der­ful trip:

  • Lawrence

    Excel­lent work.  Thank you for help­ing the peo­ple of Bamyan in their striv­ing for edu­ca­tion and development.

    Solar power makes so much sense in this region, as it requires zero fuel costs and very lit­tle main­te­nance.  And the main­te­nance work can sup­port the local econ­omy when peo­ple are trained to prop­erly do the main­te­nance jobs.

    • Hameed

      Thanks for the com­ment, Lawrence. Bamyan Uni­ver­sity (BU as we call it :) )and the girls dorm have pretty sus­tain­able solar power now. And the two nice com­puter labs in both loca­tions with energy effi­cient lap­tops serve well. The stu­dents are on their win­ter recess right now but they will come back in April.