The Colgate Scene
May 2006

Afghanistan's future: investing in human capital

Kabul University Chancellor Ashraf Ghani (foreground) [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

"They measured the size of their beards rather than their competence. The university became an empty shell," said Ashraf Ghani. Referring to the Taliban, the chancellor of Kabul University in Afghanistan went on to detail efforts to revitalize his university in a recent interview for the Colgate Conversations podcast series. Since the Taliban's ouster in 2001, he said, Afghanistan has been trying to invest in the "human capital" that is critical to its future.

Ghani said the 1979 Soviet Union invasion transformed Kabul University into a "Soviet-style bureaucracy." After the collapse of Soviet rule in 1991, a five-year civil war turned the campus into a battleground that resulted in $40 million in damage. The Taliban, which took control in 1996, then enacted incredibly rigid discipline that excluded women from all activities, imposed mandates on curricula, and forced professors to grow beards.

Ghani also talked about the significance of President Bush's recent visit to Afghanistan, and of his strong words about capturing Osama bin Laden. "The fact that President Bush stopped in Afghanistan is a very important marker of the ongoing commitment of the United States to stability and prosperity in Afghanistan."

To hear the podcast or listen to other Colgate Conversations, go to

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