Early-stage impact study of the Darakht-e Danesh (“Knowledge Tree”) OER Library in Afghanistan
General Objective: This study sought to determine whether the OER accessed via the Darakht-e Danesh Library (DDL) would enable teachers’ use of educational content in their teaching practice; and, whether this content would positively impact the educators’ subject knowledge and pedagogical practice.
- Have the technologies deployed improved access and use of the DDL?
- Did OER in the DDL enhance teachers’ subject area or content knowledge?
- Did access to DDL resources enhance teacher instructional practices?
Since the Taliban regime ended in late 2001, the basic education system in Afghanistan is has experienced a rebirth, with millions of girls back in school, new teacher colleges opened in every province, and ongoing curricular reform. Significant challenges do however remain. Over 30 years of war and an ongoing insurgency that has singled out teachers and girls’ education for attack makes this a difficult environment in which to teach and to learn. Afghan teachers contend with a daunting lack of resources: most schools do not have libraries or science labs, many students go without textbooks, and teachers have little material to help them work through a new curriculum that many struggle to understand. It can be difficult to find quality resources in Dari and Pashto languages for educational use. Even when such resources are available, teachers cannot easily afford to purchase materials.
The OER movement has meant that huge collections of materials are made available to teachers free of charge and without copyright and use restrictions. However, teachers in the developing world who speak languages other than English are largely excluded from taking advantage of this wealth of free, openly licensed information. A scan of the main OER collections online reveals that while some have multilingual collections, no Central Asian languages are currently included. For Afghanistan, there are few Dari, Persian or Pashto materials available online at all, particularly educational materials of any kind. Within the country, most books are imported from Iran or Pakistan and the Afghan publishing industry is weak. There are almost no materials targeting teachers, and resources developed by NGOs are not typically shared externally or published online. Most teachers make do without materials and few, if any, books. The availability of educational resources in local languages through readily accessible technology could potentially profoundly improve the quality of education in Afghanistan.
The DDL is the result of the Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan NGO’s experience gained in developing and delivering in-service teacher training programming in Afghanistan, and working in partnership with the Ministry of Education, local NGOs, businesses, and various donor agencies. After spending several years developing the platform and building up the collection of OER by identifying, vetting, translating, editing, and graphic designing resources in Dari, Pashto and English, the DDL stands to make an important contribution to alleviating local challenges around quality, relevant resource provision in Afghanistan. This study is an early-stage evaluation of the impact of the modest collection of the library as well as the dynamics surrounding its small group of users over a period of two months.
Oates, L. & Hashimi, J. (2016). Localizing OER in Afghanistan: Developing a Multilingual Digital Library for Afghan teachers, Open Praxis, 8(2), 151-161. Retrieved from: http://www.openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/article/view/288
Oates, L., Hashimi, J., Zaiyee, M. & Parwani, A. R. (2017). Going Open in Afghanistan – Impact Study of an OER Library. Presented at Open Education Global Conference, 8-10 March 2017, Cape Town. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/oeconsortium/going-open-in-afghanistan-impact-study-of-an-oer-library