I turn from the vehicles parking space in backside of the building towards one of the back entrances and step inside the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE). I have an appointment to interview MoHE’s director of human resources. I don’t know where his office is located in the building. As usual I look around to ask someone, suddenly my eyes are fixed on the organizational chart, hanging on the wall, describing every departments’ location and work procedure. Something catches my attention which is not quite common in most government agencies. I am fixed on everything from signs, instructions and showcases to fire suppression systems, security cameras and accessibility of the building for people with disabilities. I think to myself: it is not without reason that the MoHE’s Directorate of Human Resources have been selected as the “Top Human Resources Directorate” by the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC).
I meet Muhammad Mustafa Yonuszada, head of the MoHE’s HR directorate, in his office. I ask him what notable things has he done that his team and department have been chosen as the “Top Human Resources Directorate”. Yonuszada, while expressing happiness on the selection of the MoHE’s HR directorate as “Top Human Resources Directorate” by the IARCSC, adds that the title placed a heavy burden on his shoulders and that his team was working on new projects to retain this title and position for at least another three years.
He says this title was not won easily, and immediately speaks of fundamental changes and reforms, adding that he began his work with the vision of improving the internal situation, creating transparency in the recruitment process and providing a safe work space for the staff. Also, with the thoughts on how to provide effective and valuable services to citizens, and how to develop an efficient organizational structure and adjust it in accordance with the laws of the country.
Director of Human Resources of the MoHE adds that since he began work as head of this department, he prioritized the revision of the organizational structural because the structure had serious issues and problem of duties overlap among departments was so bad that if one wanted to get something done, official letters needed to go through several departments. He says that in order to reform the organizational structure, he created a team in coordination with the IARCSC and the Administrative Office of the President (AOP), and after reviewing, a very scattered organizational structure of this ministry was turned into organized and efficient structure.”
Ensuring transparency in the recruitment process is another issue that Mr. Yonuszada has been diligently working on. He has changed recruitment process from its older paper-based form and adapted it to the electronic recruitment system. According to the MoHE’s director of Human Resources Directorate, after reforming the organizational structure and digitalization of the recruitment process, more than seven hundred vacant positions were identified in this ministry’s administration sector were recruited for through free competition and in a completely transparent process. Also, 1620 vacant positions were identified in the cadre and academic sectors, and after the President’s approval, more than a thousand of these vacant positions were filled during 2019 and 2020, and the remaining 508 vacant positions will be filled this year.
We have raised the capacity and efficiency of staff by organizing capacity building programs
Another initiative of Mr. Yonuszada was employees’ capacity building programs. At first he carried out an educational-needs assessment and developed capacity building programs according to the needs of employees. In addition to short-term capacity building training programs, he has also introduced six staff members of the department to scholarship programs for the master’s degree abroad.
During my visit to the ministry, we also visited the classroom for capacity building training programs where nineteen employees of the ministry were receiving training classes on Microsoft Access. Obaidullah Maulaei, a capacity building trainer at the HR directorate, said that according to the pre-determined plan, which was developed based on the educational-needs assessment, we try to achieve three objectives which include improving employees’ skills and expertise, familiarizing them with code of conduct in the departments and training them on management and communication programs. He added that the efficiency of the department depends on the skills and expertise of its employees, and the quality of work also improves through management, communication and treatment of the visitors training programs.
Mr. Maulaei further says that during one year, 320 mid-level and entry-level employees of the ministry have benefited from capacity building training programs.
In addition to the abovementioned initiatives, other fundamental work has been done to transfer knowledge and work experience to colleagues in the areas of anti-corruption, simplification of administrative procedures, effective use of technology through monthly HR directorate’s meetings, development of a comprehensive guideline for applicants of vacant positions, development of a checklist for submitting documents through the second administrative units in the recruitment process, ensuring coordination through e-mails and communication via video conferencing with human resources departments are among the initiatives which were taken into consideration in the IARCSC’s assessment of this directorate.
Also, installation of armored safety gates for senior officials and staff in a specific space which can accommodate all the offices, using blast film on the windows to prevent window glasses from getting shattered, creating emergency exit routes through the windows in all offices, providing health kits for all offices, installation of emergency alarms, developing a coded system for all personnel record registry offices and providing safe metal boxes for them, registration of civil servants personal affairs information, developing specific procedures for capacity building programs, extra payments and recruitment of contract staff, and finally the establishment of electronic attendance in the Girls Dormitory, are among other initiatives which helped the MoHE’s HR directorate achieve the “Top Human Resources Directorate” title.
The IARCSC honored top HR directorate, HR leader and HR project, with awards and letters of appreciation, last year. The HR directorates of the Ministry of Higher Education which received the highest criteria based ratings was awarded the title of “Top Human Resources Directorate of Civil Service Sector”.