Roghul Alireza, teaches with the Aga Khan Health Services in Faizabad, Afghanistan.

Six years after the Cross-Border Vocational Education in Badakhshan (CVEB) program began, its graduates on the Afghan side of the border continue to reap the benefits of their training at the University of Central Asia’s School of Professional and Continuing Education in Khorog, Tajikistan.

Roghul was one of the first students in the program. She was a schoolteacher before attending CVEB in Khorog. With the skills she gained there, she improved her livelihood and now works to strengthen the health sector in one of Afghanistan’s poorest and most remote provinces.

Raised in Shughnan, Roghul was teaching English in Faizabad when she applied to the CVEB program in 2011. Although some of Badakhshan’s more traditional families do not permit daughters to study or work outside of the home in a mixed-gender classroom, Roghul’s family encouraged her to pursue her education, particularly in English.

“My family became very happy when I joined this program and they always supported me, especially my father,” Roghul remembers. “He said that English is very important to our life and when we know English we can find a good job.”

Four years after completing the program in Khorog, Roghul has improved her job prospects and earning potential. She secured a job with the Aga Khan Health Services in Faizabad, the center of Badakhshan province, and now uses her English as an instructor in the nursing program, where she also teaches computer literacy.

“The CVEB experience was so beneficial for me for employment,” says Roghul. “I improved my language by teaching and listening, and so I feel confident during my interviews. Now at my work I earn more.”

Now in its third phase, the CVEB program, launched in 2009, promotes economic opportunity and fosters cross-border cooperation in Badakhshan province. The program provides students with housing, courses, and learning materials tailored to Afghan learners. Supplemental instruction ensures that the Afghan participants succeed in their coursework. CVEB also organizes community activities to encourage cross-border cultural exchange between the Afghan men and women living and studying in Khorog.

The project aims to improve employability and economic opportunity on both sides of the border by addressing issues of instructor preparedness. Tailored for instructors of English, IT, and Accounting, and housed within a regional training institution equipped to accommodate learners from both sides of the border, CVEB III is guided by a strategy of investment in education for greater opportunities.

Like Roghul, many of the Afghans who have completed the program over the years are bringing new skills and energies for a better future.

Cross-Border Vocational Education in Badakhshan is an initiative of the University of Central Asia in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Aga Khan Foundation USA.