Simio Academic Program: New Mexico State University Investigates The Potential Futures Of Education In Afghanistan

Organization: New Mexico State University

by Benjamin Marlin and Hansuk Sohn
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Problem

New Mexico State University Investigates The Potential Futures Of Education In Afghanistan The basic grade level structure. The combiner batches students into classrooms based on either a prescribed or dynamic student teacher ratio. They are joined by a district rule. The parent entity is the teacher which is then assigned the students district. At the end of the school year, the batch is separated and students either recycle the grade level or move to another module. New Mexico State University Investigates The Potential Futures Of Education In Afghanistan The education module is the aggregation of 12 grade levels and the community education. Blue Student paths allow students to return to the respective grade level after completing community education, whereas Brown student paths connect sequential grade levels to one another and to community education. The bold, blue path brings teachers back to the teacher pool for reassignment at the end of each school year. This work introduces a novel application of a SIMIO Discrete Event Simulation (DES) which uses entities that are analogous with primitive agents to provide key insights for the international educational planner. DES has become a common analytic tool in policy decision making and has become common ground in areas such as emergency services, healthcare management, and military procurement. However, there is an apparent gap regarding the use of such simulation analysis in education planning. Afghanistan has only a 27% literacy rate, and in much of the country security and culture prevent millions of children from attending school. Recently, the international community is dedicating substantial resources (billions in U.S. dollars and thousands of man hours) to improve Afghan education. The use of simulation to inform decisions will not only help, but should often be compulsory before the dedication of limited resources on such a complex and confounded system. Here we introduce a relevant proof of a principal simulation model in which individual students and teachers interact within the Afghanistan Education System across a variable time horizon. This will allow the education planner or policy maker to glean insight into the implications of security, policy, and infrastructure in this complex and capricious environment.

Solution

Benjamin Marlin and Hansuk Sohn at Industrial Engineering in New Mexico State University used SIMIO to assess the potential futures of the Afghanistan Education System. By adopting multiple large scale designs of experiment, applying social impact theory, and approaching the problem at the provincial level, a high resolution representation of the Afghanistan Education System was able to be built. Student and teacher entities which communicate and make simple decisions as they flow through the education system were created. These entities are influenced by both exogenous (i.e. attacks on schools) and endogenous (i.e. teacher production) factors such as security, funding, and resolve providing key insights into expected and stochastic events. Therefore, through the simulation model, the educational planners are able to discern the nature of this complex environment.

Result

An example of 3D view of grades 1-3 and their respective paths. An example of 3D view of grades 1-3 and their respective paths. The big picture model with both male and female education pods, the attack module, Teacher Training College (TTC) servers, and teacher and student sources. The big picture model with both male and female education pods, the attack module, Teacher Training College (TTC) servers, and teacher and student sources. The results of the simulation provided a breadth of information concerning the growth of literacy, graduation rates, quality of education, parity of education across genders social groups, and geographic location. We were able to highlight specific provinces which should be of concern as well as potential scenarios which can cause catastrophic failures to the system. Additionally, we were able to highlight specific policy options such as community based education, multigrade classrooms, and information operations which can significantly influence education in Afghanistan. In addition, as this is very much a proof of principal, we are able to show the benefit in using a complex simulation in the realm of education planning.

This project was a major portion of Benjamin’s PhD dissertation under Dr. Hansuk Sohn’s supervision.

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