Yahia Baiza, an alumnus of the IIS Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH), has been appointed by The International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) of UNESCO as their representative at The Afghan Ministry of Education. As the UNESCO-IIEP National Coordinator, Yahia will assist in supervising the formulation and implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Education in Afghanistan.

Yahia is originally from Afghanistan and began his research on education in Afghanistan in 2000 by visiting three cities which had the largest concentration of Afghan refugees in Pakistan: Karachi, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. During this trip to Pakistan, Yahia observed the lives of Afghan refugees, studying their challenges and issues as well as their achievements with regard to the education of the younger generation. ‘This first visit to Pakistan,’ Yahia says, ‘became a foundation for my future studies of the educational challenges of Afghan refugees in Pakistan’. The visit prompted Yahia to further his research, as part of his GPISH field project in 2002 and for his MSc dissertation in Educational Research Methodology in 2003 at The University of Oxford.

Yahia continued his assessment and research in this field during his Dphil, also at The University of Oxford, which is centered on education in Afghanistan. His research indicates that violence and social conflict emerge when societies ignore, provoke or practice social, ethnic or political injustices. Yahia uses the case of Afghanistan as an example of inequities where education was used as a catalyst for social injustice.

Since being appointed in October 2006, Yahia has been based in Kabul and has been working with The Afghan Ministry of Education in developing its technical capacities to implement the National Strategic Plan. He assists the Ministry in translating the current plan into an Annual Action Plan for provincial, district and school levels. Yahia is optimistic that, with the help of the wider public, national and international support, and political commitment, the Ministry will be able to implement and sustain its strategic plan.

Yahia states: ‘I am convinced that the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Education will not only facilitate the education of qualified human cadres and improve the economy, but will also transform Afghanistan’s current emergency situation into a promising future, and contribute towards state-building and the overall security and stability.’