Let me express my feelings and emotions with deep sorrow and alas, Afghans are not bad people as it is imagined in your daily newspapers and night News networks. We have suffered for long time it does not start with the Taliban empowerment or regime, it is long before that, I might not remember well but I have seen documentaries and heard from friends who are older than me and have experienced these situations.
There are thousands of problems for an Afghan student who has graduated from school or university; he can be patient with a hope unfortunately with false hope that might look real or as right for thousands of people.
First of all let me say that host universities and scholarship providers don’t have the exact information about the youth situations in Afghanistan, they might have heard from Kabul youth only or might have heard from those people who have been in gift scholarships in foreign countries.
Here in this article I just want to mention a small part of Afghan students and bachelors problems looking forward to get the chance of studying in any foreign countries, as it costs thousands dollars to study in private university which later will be refused by Government of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai saying” these certificates have no value in Afghanistan”.
We Google scholarships for 2012 we get thousands of links over net and checking only few of them are for Afghanistan , only those scholarships announced as globally will be consider to apply for. When you find the scholarships that are global you have to look for other obstacles that called criteria.
The first criteria is TOEFL and IELTS unfortunately only few people in Afghanistan have passed the TOEFL or IELTS test , and they are studying in American universities such as Fulbright’s or they might even have the master degree. Every year there will be few times TOEFL test in Afghanistan, HERAT and Kabul you have to register yourself at the time it is announced unless you don’t get the chance to entry test. Second TOEFL is nothing to study at home you have to follow it by course even if your English is at good level, unluckily you can only find TOEFL preparation courses in Kabul and HERAT if I am not wrong maybe in Mazar-e-Sharif or Jalalabad you can’t find TOEFL preparation courses in more than 25 provinces of the Country, so I have to leave my job my family to follow TOEFL preparation course, who will pay my expenses then. Each time you register you have to pay 160 USD dollars to TOEFL and 200 USD to IELTS that money is not easy to find it is more than a one month income of a bachelor or a graduate student, and let me assure you that you won’t get the numbers from these exams to help you reach the requirements in Scholarships.
Secondly all scholarships ask Diploma and Transcription, and if you have are graduated from Afghanistan universities you will know what it means. I have finished university bachelor degree in 2009 and now it is 2012 but I don’t have my diploma and transcription, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to have it, it means I can’t have them. All host universities request English diploma which Afghanistan universities never give, they have two conditions, you have to be staff of UN or you have already received an scholarships and Afghanistan foreign ministry have given you the letter to get the English diploma, in response to them how can I get an scholarship if you are not giving me my diploma so I can send to scholarship providers while applying, it is same as story of who came first egg or hen. I am looking for to get a job with UN even volunteer in order to get my diploma in English even if it costs me to leave my current paid job. One of the governmental university professors said I am currently teacher at this university and asking for my English diploma the university tell me to bring a letter from UN , isn’t it ridicules that teaching at the same university as professor but have to bring letter from UN.
Another matter to raise is the kinds of scholarships there are always two sorts of scholarships, one of them as offered as gift to Government of Afghanistan which we never will have them because we don’t have friends and family in Parliament or presidential office or even in cabinet to get one and the second one those scholarships as announced globally, it is mentionable that this appeal is not to offered scholarships to government of Afghanistan and it doesn’t worth to an appeal to ask for because those are as gift given by brother – in law to brother of the bride.
Another criteria and problem is the quality of thesis from Afghan students, unfortunately scholarship providers compare afghan students with the Indian, Russian, American, china and other countries who have studied specific courses under the topics of thesis writing they know what to write and how to write, they have more facilitation and access to resources, but comparing them with Afghan students on the board as scholarships are globally and selected based on theses they receive.
Recommendations! Problems with problems, every scholarship asks two recommendation letter from university professor, and in each country the professors write recommendations to their students, in Afghanistan unfortunately the university professors cant write a recommendation to satisfy scholarship provider, unluckily they even don’t know English and those who know English, when you give them your thesis and information to write you recommendation letter instead he or she applies to get the scholarship.
Another issue is the Gender – when we find some scholarships that look easy to get into and fit, when looking into criteria you will find a section saying only for female, you will again lose hope and close the page. I don’t know what we guys do with these matter too, sometimes my pen mates say “ we have to walk through rainbow to get a scholarship” it is believe that if you walk through rainbow your sex status will change, anyway I don’t emphasis on this but it is a problem for we guys.
Unfortunately in some latest scholarships that I applied after I have been shortlist they told me we are sorry, you don’t complete the criteria our fellow should have already travelled abroad we can’t guarantee, you will come back to your country, an assault and defaming my nationality, is it my problem if Afghans have been bad and fled, is it my problem if I am born in this cursed land, I have to go for luxury or sightseeing in order to tell them hey now I complete the criteria.
I have applied to a debate program I was shortlisted but not finalized, they told me we are sorry this year we had very good applications, I wrote them back it is ok I will try next year also I have applied for this program for two years , few days later I found that they have selected some people even they can’t speak English , the language of debate was English and it was written that translation will not be provided, what a bullshit again I felt emotion and crunched my teeth and gnash , rehearsing don’t want to say to myself the word of don’t lose hope and stop applying to scholarships, it is just paper work.
I should mention one another problem here, the Passport. Two years back finally I received an scholarship on that time I had no passport, for more than 3 weeks I went to the Passport administration but I couldn’t get a passport even I was looking for commission workers unfortunately with having no contact of commission workers I couldn’t get, while remembering those days the price of each passport were more than 500 USD.
It is now more than 1300 words just mentioning few problems and challenges of Afghan students applying for scholarships, it would be more than a thousand page book if I wrote all their problems.
I have applied for more than 50 scholarships, 20 debates and exchange programs and have written more than 100 theses, finally thanks to Friedrich Ebert Stiftung that award me a 13 days exchange program in Islamabad which I learned a lot and I am grateful of this organization for their generous support and righteous decision, with following all lessons, debates and programs I personally in this visit did a research into the Pakistan four largest newspapers consisting, DAWN, Nation, The News and Daily times , I was in DAWN archive for one day and looked over each headlines from mid 2011 to mid 2012, searching for the image of Afghanistan in Pakistan media which later documents and find outs will be given to Afghan journalists and media outlets with photos from the headlines in order to help them stop propagandizing against each other.
As an afghan student with 8 years of experiences working with Media organizations, in levels of national and international, I request from host universities and scholarship providers to be true to Afghan students, they are not a bunch of guys who want to flee from their mother land they want to learn and build their country.