The UNITAR Afghanistan Fellowship Programme - Inspiring Transformation discusses important themes related to the effective governance of Afghanistan by and for Afghan nationals themselves, a crucial requirement for the future of the nation following the elections in 2014. The 2016 Cycle of the Fellowship underwent a strategic review and restructure. Some elements below may refer to previous cycles of the Fellowship.
The Fellowship seeks to contribute to sustainable learning in the workplace and to build on the capacity of the Afghan civil service as it works to rely on its own ability and lessen its need to depend on the human resources and expertise provided by the international community.
Since its launch in 2003, the Fellowship is currently in its fourteenth cycle, with a total of over 500 participants having taken part.
The Fellowship’s two long-term objectives are:
a. To support Fellows in the application of their new knowledge and greater confidence to the transformation of their respective ministries and organizations through:
b. To build a committed and highly capable Fellowship community in Afghanistan which can serve as a resource for planning and implementing capacity-building and training activities at the local and national levels.
The Fellowship utilizes several layers of reinforcement and continued learning, allowing for the development of a committed, indigenous community, contextualizing the themes of the programme for the changing landscape within Afghanistan. These mutually reinforcing layers include;
Throughout the Fellowship process, participants utilize the training offered in a number of assignments and projects, which are both peer-, and Mentor-reviewed. This serves to reinforce the themes of the Fellowship programme, and instill a learning-by-doing element in the training architecture.
In the weeks in between Workshop I and Workshop II, Fellows are offered guidance by UNITAR’s team of Mentors, Coaches and Afghan Resource Persons. Following individual presentation of the findings of Assignment One at Workshop II, each team uses the results of the organization needs assessments to decide on a team project.
The Fellowship sees three Workshops held throughout the process, two in Kabul, and one in Hiroshima, Japan.
Endeavouring to widen the impact of the Fellowship, UNITAR has placed special emphasis on methodology and skill development related to leadership and mentoring. The objective in this respect is to develop the capacity of each Fellow to be a leader and facilitator able to contribute to organizational and Human Resource Development within his/her respective ministry or organization.
The outcomes of the projects undertaken by most of the teams over the last few cycles indicate that this objective was met with a considerable degree of success. Special efforts have also been made to ensure the Fellows’ team projects focus on management of change and organizational development, and the necessary skills and knowledge to support the process have been included as the recurring themes throughout the Cycle curriculum.
The Fellowship undertakes a combination of different training methods with a series of skill-building activities, including:
Throughout the Fellowship, Video Seminars link Fellows, as a group, to Resource Persons around the globe. Presentations delivered during such events correspond to the phase in the Fellowship at which the Fellows find themselves and have included, amongst others:
All groups are connected via Skype to both UNITAR and their Mentors every 4 weeks so that the project and Fellowship process can be discussed. Standing as milestones in the programme, these conferences are augmented by ad-hoc discussions between group members, Coaches, ARPs and Mentors.
The Coaching for Coaches Module starts before the official launch of the Fellowship. To facilitate the Coaches’ responsibility of guiding the Fellows through their assignments, the first six web-based sessions are conducted prior to the official launch of the Fellowship to ensure they are prepared in time. The topics covered include:
Two subsequent web sessions conducted during the Fellowship Cycle primarily focus on the challenges faced by Coaches thus far. Prior to each session, Coaches are given assignments and background reading. They are also asked to manage and facilitate the Fellowship Orientation work shop, as well as After-Action Reviews (AARs) at all Workshops. As a final requirement Coaches, along with the ARPs are asked to organize a Cycle De-briefing Seminar.
A crucial element in the UNITAR Hiroshima Office methodology is the continuing facilitation of learning and skill-building for our ARPs. Launched in 2013, the ARP Training Module on Social Entrepreneurship, subtitled “Solving Social Issues by Creating Innovation, Jobs, Social Leaders and Global Citizens” encourages ARPs to analyse the skills and insight they have gained in the previous two iterations of the Fellowship, and how this can be utilized to develop their own leadership legacy, and outline ways in which this can be utilized to solve a social issue.