By Shruti Bhatt
Afghanistan Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Hamdullah Mohib, spoke to UMD faculty and students about the importance of using higher education as a way to rebuild Afghanistan after decades of instability.
Dr. Mohib has served as Afghanistan Ambassador since September of 2015. He is also the non-resident ambassador to Mexico, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Colombia. His main focus redefining Afghanistan so people around the world understand that the country is working to become a stable democracy that promotes peace and prosperity.
Dr. Mohib said higher education is the only means of formulating strategies and finding stability in the country.
“We want to use higher education as a method to get us out of where we are today,” he said.
Dr. Mohib said in 2001 there were only 8,000 students enrolled to get higher education in Afghanistan. Today, there are nearly 30,000 students, and almost one-third of them are women, he said. Dr. Mohib said he believes the role of education will help materialize Afghanistan’s vision of being a hub in the middle east.
“Higher education will increase the social impact at an unmeasurable pace,” he said. With an increase in social capital, more people can contribute to the country’s transformation into a more democratic society.
Many people from Afghanistan travel out of the country for the chance to receive proper education either for themselves or for their children, Dr. Mohib said.
“Education has no bias. It doesn’t matter where it comes from,” he said.
Dr. Mohib said the biggest challenge is redevelopment: 75 percent of the population is under age 35 and have never known true stability. The narrative is changing because more people have access to higher education, he said.
“Six million people are connected to the internet and half of those people are using social media,” Dr. Mohib said. “They are already getting exposure to new technologies and platforms.”
Afghanistan has been through nearly four decades of turmoil, wars and rapid changes of government. Dr. Mohib said now the country is finally stabilizing so they can work toward the goal of putting Afghanistan back on the map.
“We want to be known as the nation of Rumi,” he said, referring to a famous Afghan poet.
Mukti Patel, a junior accounting major, said holding forums like these help students expand their perspectives on people and cultures around the world.
“When people hear Afghanistan, the first thing they think about unfortunately is the terrorism,” she said. “But by coming to this lecture, people learn that there is so much more to the country and its people.”
Dr. Ross Lewin, Associate Vice President of the Office of International Affairs, said the one thing he took away from Dr. Mohib’s speech was “Afghan people are people of stamina.”