Afghan policy makers perceive higher education as a vital engine of growth and development. The higher education system produces a pool of high level human resources, including policy makers, administrators, managers, entrepreneurs, engineers, medical personnel, highly skilled technicians, as well as qualified teachers and academics, that are essential for economic development. The availability of such a pool of well-educated human resources will be of central importance for the overall future development of the country. Recognizing this, the Government of Afghanistan and the World Bank (WB) have agreed to support the higher education sector through a Higher Education Operation that will succeed the previous Strengthening Higher Education Project (SHEP). The new Higher Education Development Project (HEDP) will support the overall Government’s own effort to expand and strengthen its higher education sector. THE PROJECT The proposed project contains two components: (1) A program component that finances strategic initiatives to develop the higher education sector. The strategic initiatives are (a) increasing participation in universities in priority degree programs for national economic development, (b) modernizing and enhancing the quality and relevance of teaching and learning; (c) expanding the professional qualifications and skills of academic and technical staff; (d) strengthening governance, quality assurance and accreditation; and (e) stimulating development orientated research. And (2) a program operations and technical support component that would support project coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, research activities, human resource development for academic managers and administrative and technical staff, policy studies, beneficiary satisfaction surveys, communications and policy dialogues. The Director of the Operations and Monitoring Support Team (OMST) in the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) will coordinate and facilitate the implementation of HEDP in close collaboration with its relevant departments. . OPERATIONS AND MONITORING SUPPORT TEAM Support under OMST will cover coordination, technical assistance (TA), monitoring and evaluation, research and policy studies, and communication. The technical assistance and capacity building activities of this component will assist the MoHE to implement the development initiatives of the NHESP-II. Policy studies could include tracer studies of graduates to analyze their job search and labor market experience, as well as beneficiary satisfaction surveys of staff and students of institutions and programs supported by HEDP. Resources for communication would enable higher education authorities to disseminate development initiatives to political authorities, policy makers, academics, students, and the general public. The team would help MoHE to fine tune policy reforms, such as piloting and evaluating innovative approaches to promote female enrolment in priority programs. Component 2 of the Projectwill also finance the incremental operating costs of an Operations and Monitoring Support Team (OMST) in the MoHE.