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: