A previous blog featured a discussion about an upcoming program from USAID to develop associate degree programs in Afghanistan as part of  the Strengthening Tertiary Education Program – University Partnerships for Afghanistan (STEP-UP) effort.   The RFA is now posted.  The relevant dates for prospective applicants are: Issuance Date: May 29, 2013; Closing Date:   July 15, 2013; Closing Time:  16:30 (4:30 P.M.) Kabul Time; Questions Cutoff Date: June 10, 2013

Here is some relevant language from the RFA:

Qualified U.S. and non-U.S. colleges and universities (including minority serving institutions, community colleges, and women’s colleges) may apply for USAID funding under this RFA. USG and USAID regulations generally treat colleges and universities as NGOs, rather than governmental organizations; hence, both public and private colleges and universities are eligible. Non-U.S. colleges and universities in countries that are ineligible for assistance under the FAA or related appropriations acts are ineligible.”

“Develop and pilot an employment-oriented associate degree program:

Within selected universities, and in partnership with public and private sector organizations, STEP-UP will develop and pilot two to three-year associate degree programs to prepare graduates to go directly into business, industry and government jobs.  The associate degree programs will also provide increased access to opportunities for female graduates to gain market-driven expertise and employment within professions that are more attractive to women, such as finance, administration and the social services.  Based on the success of initial models, the associate degree program will be expanded to additional universities and technical fields. 

While both STEP-UP and USAID’s Afghanistan Workforce Development Program (AWDP) are focusing on linking education to labor market needs, the programs will be working within different ministries and at different education levels.  In Afghanistan, grades 13 and 14 fall under the MoE and include Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions and Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs).  The MoHE is only responsible for universities and higher education institutions, which offer four-year bachelor’s degrees.  

The associate degrees developed by STEP-UP at public universities and in collaboration with the MoHE are planned as two-year academic programs with additional practical skills development components such as internships.  Once associate degree programs have been established and are producing graduates, it may be possible to place associate degree graduates with TVET program institutions as instructors.”