Afghanistan opens National Institute for Educational Planning

Afghanistan’s first-ever National Institute for Educational Planning (NIEP) officially opened its doors in Kabul on 21 April 2015, simultaneously welcoming 44 new trainees and celebrating the graduation of the previous cohort of 48 in a formal ceremony attended by local and international partners.

The graduates of the two-year diploma national training programme in educational planning and management, who come from all around the country, are proud to celebrate their achievement, the result of their unwavering commitment to rebuilding the country’s education system. All will continue to work to improve the quality, equitable access to, and relevance of education services.

The NIEP has evolved from an ambitious idea to become a landmark for educational planning in the country. The trainees are all employees of the Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE), with which IIEP and development partners have built a strong cooperation to modernize the country’s education system over the past 13 years.

A specialized training from the Afghan Ministry of Education

Now managed from NIEP, the National Training Programme (NTP) was designed and launched in 2012 by the MoE and IIEP. The programme offers three types of training, all designed to meet the country’s specific capacity development objectives.

The two-year regular NTP diploma is for provincial and district level MoE staff, 200 of whom have already taken part. Sixty central-level MoE staff have been trained through an evening NTP programme. And a special women’s NTP programme specifically designed to address the gender gap in the MoE staff, for female secondary school graduates, has already enrolled 84 trainees.

"Over the past 13 years, IIEP’s capacity development partnership with Afghanistan’s education ministry has clearly improved educational planning, which is a key to better educational outcomes. The Afghan Government has shown a tremendous drive to develop a resilient education system under very difficult circumstances. The opening of the National Institute of Educational Planning is a testament to this, and we are proud to work with such dedicated trainers, students, and partners”, IIEP Director Suzanne Grant Lewis said.

Commitment to rebuilding the Afghan education system since 2002

Since 2002, following the fall of the Taliban regime, when the government requested assistance from the international community to tackle Afghanistan’s most important structural challenges, IIEP has been training educational planners and helping to secure the necessary support.

The aim, right from the start, has been to enable the MoE to plan, manage, and run their own modern and efficient education system for the benefit of girls and boys across the country.

The successive phases of the joint IIEP-MoE capacity development project which have led to the opening of the National Institute for Educational Planning have been generously supported by the Scandinavian development aid agencies of Norway (2006-10), Denmark (2011-15), and now Sweden (2015-18).

"As General Director for Planning and Evaluation, it is my responsibility to ensure that sound strategic and operational education plans are in place, and that implementation of plans are properly coordinated, monitored and evaluated. The challenge was low technical expertise, therefore we concentrated our efforts to enhance fundamental competencies of MoE staff, engaged in planning and monitoring at national and sub-national levels, through a sustainable capacity development mechanism. The results achieved so far are promising. We believe that in the near future, as more staff graduate from NTP, achievement of Millennium Development Goals and Education for All goals in Afghanistan will be accelerated using a top-down and bottom-up planning approach”, says Abdul Wassay Arian, General Director for Planning and Evaluation at the Ministry of Education.

Transitioning to technical autonomy

Today, as Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education takes a step towards increased autonomy in planning, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) will provide support until 2018, thanks to a USD3.8 million grant. The implementation will take place in close collaboration with UNESCO’s Kabul office. In addition to its vision, leadership, and countless hours of staff time, the MoE has contributed with the NIEP building as well as several government payroll staff. In the future, it aims to fund the NIEP entirely through its ordinary budget with less reliance on external support.

The main focus of the new phase is on developing the Ministry’s long-term technical autonomy in implementing its 3rd National Education Strategic Plan, through the training of 500 ministry staff and 120 female secondary school graduates at the National Institute for Educational Planning.


Suzanne Grant Lewis
IIEP Director. Expert in Gender inequalities, planning and policy-making in the developing world, participation in school governance, democratic policy-making, funding trends in education

Morten Sigsgaard
Conflict and disaster risk reduction, Education sector strategic planning, Capacity development, Research and evaluation