SJSU to play educational role in Afghanistan

December 2, 2010 7:01:14 PM PST
San Jose State University is set to play a key role in the US War on Terrorism in Afghanistan. This is not a military mission, but an educational one. The plan is to help promote a free democracy in the country through journalism.

The State Department has chosen San Jose State from 29 other University applicants to receive a $1.22 million federal grant to train Afghan professors to teach modern journalism.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed was on hand for the announcement and says, "It is great to see the State Department recognizing the importance of a free press to the development of a free Afghanistan."

The grant money will link SJSU and Herat University in Western Afghanistan for three years. Two professors from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication will develop curriculum to train faculty at Herat University.

SUSU President Don Kassing recognizes there will be dangers involved with traveling to the war-torn country to establish the program. Kassing says "We will go to extensive lengths to be sure our team is safe and secure."

The grant application and the award itself to SJSU are supported by the prominent Afghan Coalition based in Fremont. Mizgon Zahir Darby with the Coalition says "Right now there is a lot of bribery that's occurring. There's a lot of false statements that are being made in government but no one is reporting on it because people are one, fearful and number two, that the training is very limited in the country."

In addition to establishing a modern journalism curriculum, one component of the grant will be to establish an Internet-based radio/television sites for the students at both universities. The idea is that the two can share stories and hone their reporting skills.

Senior Susan Mir who recently spent a month in Herat and says it will allow for a more complete picture of Afghanistan to emerge. Susan says "When I was there, it was totally different. It's no war zone. It's really peaceful and it's really quiet."

The people involved with this project say this phase of the war is about democracy and education. Peter Young says "Are there people that will resist this effort? Very much so, but we think this will have as much impact as any military action in the medium and long run."

There are high hopes promoting a free press in Afghanistan can help a free and stable country.


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