SP10.4: Impact of the OER Darakht-e Danesh (“knowledge tree”) Library on Educators in Afghanistan

Project overview
Project outputs

General Objective
The overall goal of the Darakht-e Danesh Library is to raise learning outcomes in Afghan classrooms and improve the quality of basic education in Afghanistan. For the project as a whole, in its implementation and beyond this impact study, expected outcomes are:

  • Enhanced knowledge among participating teachers
  • Greater application of diverse teaching methods and classroom content
  • Enhanced knowledge and skills among students.

Specific Objectives and Research Questions
The output level (short-term) objectives sought from the impact study are:

  • To measure access to the OERs housed in the DD Library;
  • To produce a detailed methodology, tools and instruments appropriate to measuring and isolating the impact of the OERs on educators’ access to quality content, and to measure changes in their knowledge and practices;
  • To yield reliable, accurate, valid data from multiple sources and at various stages;
  • To analyse and synthesize the data in order to formulate findings;

The outcome (medium-term) objectives sought from the impact study are:

  • To measure the number of participating educators who report accessing diverse teaching content, tools and methods learned on the DD Library OER tool, and;
  • To measure the number of participating educators who report having enhanced information and understanding of subject areas learned on DD Library;
  • To measure the number of educators who share resources with other educators via the DDL.

Our hypothesis is twofold: (a) that the OERs tool will enable teachers’ use of educational content in their teaching practice; b) This content will positively impact the educators’ subject knowledge and pedagogical knowledge. The theory of change is that if teachers have access to a source of knowledge related to the content and practice of their profession, and which is linked to the curriculum they teach and accessible in their own language, their subject and pedagogical knowledge will improve. At this stage, we will confine our performance measurement to the unit of educators only, and will not be measuring impacts on student performance due to methodological limitations in the Afghan context (i.e. requirement of government permission to collect data on student performance). We will also seek to find out in what ways the participating teachers use the DD Library for their professional development, the extent to which educators share their own materials on the system, their understanding of the openness principle, and finally, we will consider methodological questions, such as the best ways to obtain accurate data on the impact of OER in the Afghan context, to elicit recommendations on how to further enhance performance measurement of the tool for its long term application.

With millions of girls back in school, new teacher colleges opened in every province of Afghanistan, the second National Education Strategic Plan in place, and ongoing curricular reform, the education system in Afghanistan is experiencing a rebirth. Yet significant challenges 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 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 on-line 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 DD Library is the result of CW4WAfghan’s experience gained in developing and delivering in-service teacher training programming in Afghanistan, and working in partnership with the MoE, local NGOs and businesses, and various donor agencies. It is also a response to needs articulated in Afghanistan’s National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) II priority programs #2 (teacher training) and #4 (learning materials). After spending several years developing the platform, and then building up the collection of documents by identifying, vetting, translating, editing, and graphic designing resources in Dari, Pashto and English, we are turning our attention to finding the best delivery method for the Library’s resources to have widespread impact in Afghanistan.

Project Leader: Lauryn Oates

Researcher: Abdul Rahim Parwani

Recipient Institution: Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

Estimated Duration: March 1, 2015 to August 30, 2016

Methodology: Surveys, website analytics analysis, OER tools

Mentor: Patricia Arinto


Project outputs

Journal articles

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