Afghan woman who ran secret schools under Taliban wins education prize

Reuters – Joseph D’Urso

“An Afghan woman who supported underground schools at a time when the Taliban banned education for girls, was awarded the fifth annual WISE prize on Wednesday for taking education to marginalised communities. Sakeena Yacoobi founded the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in 1995, providing schooling and healthcare in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan as well as setting up the secret home schools, which closed down when Taliban rule ended in 2001. Since then the charity has expanded its work, helping 12 million people, many of them girls, in rural and marginalised parts of Afghanistan, according to the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). “It is particularly meaningful because this is such a crucial time in Afghanistan,” said Yacoobi, accepting the prize in Doha, Qatar. “I dedicate the prize to the AIL and all of the women, men and children we are educating.” The Taliban have launched sustained attacks since the withdrawal of most foreign troops late last year, straining the limited resources of Afghan forces. Many districts across the country are now fully or partly under Taliban control.”(more)

Teacher who educated Afghan refugee girls wins U.N. prize

Reuters – Joseph D’Urso

“A teacher who has dedicated her life to educating Afghan refugee girls, challenging cultural sexism by setting up classes in a makeshift tent, has won a special prize awarded by the U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR). Aqeela Asifi, 49, left Kabul with her family in 1992, and ended up living in the remote refugee settlement of Kot Chandna in the Punjab region of Pakistan, where most girls were excluded from the classroom. Despite few resources, she won over the community and persuaded parents to send their daughters to school. Today more than a thousand children attend permanent schools in the village, said UNHCR, although around 80 percent of Afghan refugee children in Pakistan are still out of school. The Nansen Refugee Award has been won in the past by Eleanor Roosevelt and Luciano Pavarotti. The award ceremony takes place next month in Geneva, and the winner gets $100,000 to fund a project complementing their existing work.”(more)

Zuckerberg-Backed Startup Seeks to Shake Up African Education

The Wall Street Journal – Matina Stevis and Simon Clark

“An army of teachers wielding Nook tablets and backed by investors including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg is on a mission to bring inexpensive, private education to millions of the world’s poorest children. In rural Kenya, 6-year-old Sharon Ndunge, sitting in a rough-built classroom with chicken-coop wire for windows, a tin roof and wooden benches, is among 126,000 students enrolled at the more than 400 Bridge International Academies that have sprung up across the country since the company was founded in 2009. Bridge’s founders are challenging the long-held assumption that governments rather than companies should lead mass education programs. The company’s goal is to eventually educate 10 million children and make money by expanding its standardized, Internet-based education model across Africa and Asia.”(more)

Despite Education Advances, a Host of Afghan School Woes

The New York Times – Rod Nordland

“It is widely accepted that demand among Afghans for better schooling — and the actual opportunity to attend, particularly for girls — is at its highest point in decades. For Western officials seeking to show a positive legacy from a dozen years of war and heavy investment in Afghanistan, improvements in education have provided welcome news.”(more)

School that teaches Afghan girls to speak for themselves

Al Arabiya – Staff Writer

“Dah Yaya is an Afghan village set in stony hills and steeped in traditions that limit women to second-class status…But in a school set up by an Afghan-American woman…girls are learning to dream of a different future…“The more education there is, the more doors open for them.””(more)