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Crossing borders for a little freedom & quality education

Higher Education


The Times of India

PANAJI: It took a while for them to find their bearings, but a couple of monsoons down the line, these students from Afghanistan, who have created a new home in Goa, feel one with the people here.

They are now looking forward to celebrating Holi.

“We have celebrated all the festivals; Diwali, Christmas, Eid specially Holi, and have had a wonderful time with friends. In Afghanistan there is no freedom to play Holi,” says Abdul Ghayoor Karzad, a student.

Each year, thousands of students make their way from Afghanistan to India to pursue their higher education. Most of them are enrolled in Bachelor’s, Master’s and diploma programmes in Delhi, Goa, Bangalore and Pune.

Goa is one of the most sought-after education destinations for these students who comprise over 60% of the foreign national students. Data provided by the education department reveals that of 86 foreign-origin students enrolled in various colleges for the academic year 2013-2014, nearly 63 are from Afghanistan.

The education department confirmed that at present there are 11 higher educational institutions including the Goa University and 19 schools and higher secondary schools where foreign students are studying. Afghan students come to India in large numbers especially with Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarships.

Prof Bernard Rodrigues, foreign student advisor, tells TOI that compared to other states the education in Goa is very cheap and professional.

It is the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan that gives the students, both boys and girls, scoring 90% and above special scholarships.

Students mostly prefer to go for quality education.

“In Afghanistan the syllabus of even top colleges is in Persian and not very advanced. Many students are attracted to India because the medium of instruction is English,” says Mujeeb Rahman, a law student.

But it was not an easy road for these students. “We had some problems initially as accommodation was not easily available. But with time our neighbours got to know us better and got very friendly with us,” Rahman Nazar Bilim, a law student says.

The students are full-throated in their praise for the locals’ command over English. “India has a good standard of English. We heard that Goans are really friendly and he environment is good to study,” he added.

While the world raves about Goan cuisine, these visitors from Afghanistan had a tough time wrapping their palate around the spicy food. “In the beginning it was very difficult for me since the food is very spicy here, especially the canteen food,” Noorullah Sorkhi, another law student says. Instructions to waiters to go easy on the spice is quite common.

“Back home our food is very bland,” a student says.

Many students study in a city college of arts and science. “This is one of the finer colleges in Goa. The teachers are trained and skilled – most of them have a doctorate and are very helpful. I joined Dhempe college because of its Grade A rating,” says Najeebullah Yalghoz, a student.

Many students want to continue their education in other parts of India.

But not surprisingly, a section of them hope to go back to their country and work for human rights.


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