Wednesday, December 21, 2011

“I read, I forget. I practice, I learn.”

“I read, I forget. I practice, I learn.”  That was a quote I heard last Saturday at our Partners’ Conference in Kabul. 

Professor Lutf Rahaman Sayeed of Kabul University’s Shar’ia Faculty was talking about Global Rights’ Practical Legal Education (PLE) program in Afghanistan.  He said that many Hafidh, those who have spent their lives memorizing the Koran, adopt this method for their studies.

Practical Legal Education Program Partners' Conference

When I heard the quote, I knew that Professor Sayeed had hit the nail on the head in explaining how Global Rights trains the next generation of lawyers in Afghanistan.

We have worked closely with the Law and Shar’ia faculties in Afghanistan since 2005 to craft two unique practical legal education courses, as well as a well-received legal fellowship program. 

Our program is designed to be hands on so that fourth-year Law and Shar’ia students acquire practical legal skills, as well as a clear understanding of human and women’s rights.  Almost 1,800 students at Kabul, Nangarhar, Al-Biruni, Balkh, and Herat Universities have been through one or more of the PLE components:
  • Young Lawyers in Training Program (YLTP) expands access to justice through intensive training in Afghan civil and criminal procedure, and in international human rights law for Law and Shar’ia students in their final year of study.
  • Legal Fellowship Program (LFP) provides fellowships to promising young Law and Shar’ia graduates to work in Afghanistan’s formal justice sector and in local human rights and justice non-governmental organizations.
  • Family Law Clinical Education Pilot Project (FLC) offers practical training in family law matters to Shar’ia students.

Last weekend, we had asked our partner universities to come together for the Partners’ Conference to give us feedback on our PLE program and to discuss how we could continue to work together to strengthen it.  I heard time and time again from faculty and student alumni how much better prepared students are to enter the workplace having gone through Global Rights’ PLE program.  Therefore, feedback included the desire to expand the program at our current universities so that more students could attend the PLE course and to expand the program to more universities throughout Afghanistan.

Group at Partners' Conference

Conference participants agreed the people of Afghanistan still lack knowledge about how to use the legal system and assert their rights, but programs like Global Rights’ are educating the next generation of young lawyers so that they, in turn, can help citizens understand and effectively use the legal system. 

The Deputy Minister for Higher Education for Academic Affairs, Mohammad Osman Babury, said, “From the bottom of [my] heart,” the program “strengthens the pillars of rule of law and justice that are critical for sustainability in Afghanistan.” 

To become sustainable, Deputy Minister Babury is supportive of integrating the PLE curriculum into Shar’ia and Law faculties at all Afghan universities, which is a testament to the program’s value.  While it may take a number of years to adopt the PLE program fully into the universities’ curriculum, Global Rights will continue to work with the faculties and students to provide practical legal education to the future leaders and lawyers in Afghanistan.
Happy Holidays,

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