5th Conference on Afghanistan - 13 July 2024 - at University of Education Freiburg

We warmly invite you to attend and participate in the 5th Conference on Afghanistan at the University of Education Freiburg on Saturday, 13th July 2024.

After 2021, the international media spotlight shifted from Afghanistan. However, the lives of Afghans continued and changed profoundly, especially for girls and women. Afghanistan is currently facing several crises, including economic instability, a lack of healthcare, brain drain, and social and cultural challenges. These factors have a significant impact on the lives, well-being, and futures of Afghans. A concerted effort is needed to address some of these challenges. The education sector and the Afghan diaspora can play a pivotal role in addressing the challenges. We warmly invite you to participate in the 5th Conference on Afghanistan at the University of Education in Freiburg. This year's conference, entitled "Polycrisis in Afghanistan: Education and Diaspora Responses," will explore the ways in which these two sectors can contribute to a solution.

This conference provides an excellent platform for experts, scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to come together, share insights and experiences, and discuss solutions regarding the current situation in Afghanistan. In keynotes, workshops, panel discussions, and poster presentations, the conference aims to explore the response by the educational sector and the Afghan diaspora to address these crises and identify potential strategies to overcome the current challenges.

Keynote speakers

Dr Sima Samar is a Right Livelihood Awardee, "Nobel Peace Prize nominee, renowned human rights advocate and an identified global influential female figure, Dr. Sima Samar has dedicated her life to public service, humanitarian work and women’s empowerment. Since 2002 she has been the Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) which holds human rights violators accountable and sets the human rights agenda in Afghanistan. Alongside this, Dr. Samar is the Chairperson of the Commission for the Prevention of Torture and was the Chairperson of Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF). 

Prior to her appointment as the chair of AIHRC, she was the Vice President of the Interim Administration of Afghanistan and the first Minister of Women’s Affairs. Dr. Samar served as the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan between 2005 and 2009 and has been appointed as a member of the United Nation’s Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation. Samar also served as a member of High-Level Panel for Internal Displacement.

Her commitment to her community is evident through her NGO Shuhada Organization’s work in operating 55 middle and high schools for girls and boys in Afghanistan, and three schools in Quetta, Pakistan for Afghan refugees. In addition to this Shuhada operates 12 clinics and three hospitals in Afghanistan and one hospital in Quetta for refugees, dedicated to providing education and healthcare, particularly focusing on women and girls. Shuhada organization was also training women on different skills and promoting their empowerment to enable them to stand on their own feet including midwives’ female nurses and a lot of income projects. Shuhada organization continues the work and building schools in remote parts of the country where no other organization goes there. 

Dr. Samar has continuously advocated for the world’s under-represented and marginalized groups such as women, children and minorities, with the firm belief that respect for human rights and human dignity, equality between the people and access to justice will change the reality in the ground and reduce the conflicts." (David Center of Harvard University


Dr. Abas Basir worked as the Minister for Higher Education of Afghanistan until the time that the Taliban took power in Kabul. Before joining the Ministry, he worked as the Director General of the South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP), as well as Senior Advisor to the Afghan President on Natural Resources and Environment, Chief of Staff, Afghan Vice President Office, Deputy Director General, National Environmental Protection Agency, Afghanistan (NEPA), and Acting Director, International Cultural Relations Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has also served as Afghan diplomat in New Delhi.

In addition, he had experienced teaching environment law and water management studies in Afghanistan at a variety of universities, both at a Masters and Undergraduate level. He has authored publications in the fields of environment law, policy, and elections. One of his published books on environment law is now used as a textbook by the universities as well as CSOs.

He did his Ph.D from Jawaharlal Nehru University of India on international environmental law.

HER Initiative - Leveraging digital tools to bridge the education gap for female students from Afghanistan

Florian Gorqaj and Mahdi Zaki work at SAIH (Norwegian Students and Academics International Assistance Fund)


In March 2022, the Taliban barred Afghan high school girls from returning to school, and by December 2022, this ban extended to women in universities, creating an unprecedented gender apartheid in education. In response, the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH) has launched the HER (Higher Education Response) Initiative which seeks to bridge this widening educational gap through innovative digital solutions. The initiative is supported by the Grieg Foundation and was developed in collaboration with Ayesha Wolasmal.

The HER initiative’s immediate goal is to support Afghan females right to education by providing access to digital higher education. Our immediate action focuses on enrolling approximately 100 Afghan female students in digital courses offered by the University of Stockholm and the University of Education Freiburg. These programs, delivered in English, Dari, and Pashto, cover essential professional skills such as finance, app development, English, and computer programming, preparing students for both local and international job markets. We use civil society networks and online platforms, as well as professional networks for recruitment. Additionally, we facilitate access to the internet, electricity, and provide laptops to the most in-need students.

We also have been supporting development of a global digital university platform aimed at offering sustainable educational opportunities for displaced and refugee students worldwide.

The HER Initiative presents a scalable model for global digital education, aiming to transform the lives of Afghan female students and vulnerable students worldwide, preserving their right to education and fostering a more inclusive, enlightened global society.

Program & call for contributions

Program (program)

We warmly invite you to present your work and your research during the conference (e.g. a poster).

Here you find the call for posters. (Call for posters). You can also briefly introduce your initative (10 min).

Please send us an email.

Further information

Target group      Afghans and researchers, lecturers, activists, researchers, politicians and anyone interested in Afghanistan …

Fees                    Free of charge

Location             University of Education Freiburg

                            Kunzenweg 21, 79117 Freiburg

                            KG 5 / 104 (Arrival and Map) & online

Organizers         Working Group Afghanistan, a.o. Prof. Dr. Uwe H. Bittlingmayer, Dr. Stefanie Harsch

Contact               afghanistan@ph-freiburg.de

Registration       Please register for online and onsite participation here.


Posters and Announcements from the Conference

We look forward to seeing you!