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Afghanistan

Afghanistan Tests Out New Civil-Service Hiring System

Whereas the well-connected, or those willing to pay bribes, often got the inside track to gaining employment in such positions, the emphasis now is to hire based on merit.
Whereas the well-connected, or those willing to pay bribes, often got the inside track to gaining employment in such positions, the emphasis now is to hire based on merit.
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By Farangis Najibullah and Zarif Nazar
If you were appointed a district governor in Afghanistan, how would you tackle security challenges?

For that matter, how would you provide equal rights for women in a deeply conservative society? And how would you implement government policies in an area where there is not much trust or support for government?

Those are the types of questions currently being posed to hundreds of job candidates as Afghanistan tests out revamped hiring procedures for civil-service positions.

The effort is part of the country's larger effort to fight corruption, and is aimed at changing a firmly entrenched culture of favoritism when filling government positions ranging from lofty gubernatorial posts to more modest secretarial roles.

Whereas the well-connected, or those willing to pay bribes, often got the inside track to gaining employment in such positions, the emphasis now is to hire based on merit.

The organization tasked with overseeing the new procedures, Afghanistan's Independent Administrative Reforms and Civil Service Commission (IACSC), says it has taken every precaution to ensure there will be no room for fraud.

Steps taken include an evaluation process under which tests are graded with the applicants' names kept anonymous to leave no room for favoritism.

The results are to be released within days, and applicants are given the right to appeal -- or even take legal action -- if they are dissatisfied with the testing and interview processes.

Finally, outside advisers culled from various government and private entities are brought in to monitor every stage -- from the short-listing of candidates, to the written tests, to personal interviews.

Removing Bias

Since the new system was launched last month, the IACSC says it has received nearly 2,000 applications from candidates looking to become deputy provincial governors, district governors, or administrative positions in various central or provincial departments.

In the case of the 11 deputy provincial governorships, and 100 district governorships advertized, the IACSC organized two separate tests to select the best candidates.

Azizullah Ariyafar, department head at the IACSC, says some 300 candidates -- shortlisted based on their educational background and job experience -- took part in each test.

"In written tests, candidates answered six questions relevant to the jobs they had applied for -- including on strategy and planning and other managerial issues," Ariyafar says. "The questions were prepared literally an hour before the tests began."

According to Ariyafar, job applicants' ethnic backgrounds and political affiliations played no role in the selection process.

For those who successfully pass the written tests, the next and final stage is a personal job interview. Successful applicants are to be hired immediately after the interview.

Kabir Ahmad Rahil traveled to Kabul from his village of Dawlatshahi in the northern Parwan Province in hopes of landing a job as a district governor.

Unemployed for the past three months, the 50-year-old father of eight says he first found out about the tests through advertisements broadcast on national television and radio for the past several months.

"God willing, I will successfully pass the test and get the job I applied for," Rahil says. "I am confident."

Written and reported by Farangis Najibullah, with additional reporting by RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan's Zarif Nazar
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by: Victor from: USA
October 14, 2012 19:37
There are managers and then there are officials. Officials should be elected or appointed by local elected officials.
Accountability is as important as competence.

by: The Anti Jack
October 15, 2012 15:00
There is a show on a Kabul TV channel (Tolo TV) called "Ministry" which pokes fun at the corruption and nepotism in Afghan civil service. I think it was profiled on RFE/RL some months back. So far only a short trailer has been subtitled into English. I wonder if they will do an episode on the new exams.

by: Hams from: Jerusalem
October 18, 2012 19:44
Really good story. I think it is the most important problem of current afghan government.

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