In 20 years of grantmaking, we’ve learned that educated women and girls step up to lead in their families, homes and societies. Their confidence and empowerment make a difference in the health, welfare and security of all citizens.
In 1987, just one year after the Taliban took over Afghanistan and forbade girls to get an education, the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) boldly set up schools in refugee camps in Pakistan and trained teachers for underground schools inside Afghanistan.
AIL has since expanded to eight provinces and has trained over 7,000 female primary school teachers. Every year, AIL reaches over 300,000 students. They offer women classes on literacy, as well as Qur’anic interpretations that substantiate the rights of women under Islam. They provide health education and medical services each month to 25,000 women and children, most who are survivors of war, poverty and dislocation. Many are orphans and widows struggling to survive in a devastated country where food, housing, employment and other resources necessary to support life are scarce.
With the current reconstruction of civil society following the 2005 elections in Afghanistan, AIL is playing a critical role in organizing women and girls to combat religious extremism as the country enters a new era.
AIL believes that access to formal and informal education strengthens women’s awareness and builds the courage a woman needs to demand her rights in society. Today, although teachers at AIL again face threats from resurgent Taliban forces, AIL founder Sakena Yacoobi says, “When the people trust you, they will protect you.”
“When you see the joy and excitement in the students’ faces, when you see them sitting on dirt floors, under trees, in dark basements, anywhere to get an education, you forget all of your trouble.” — Sakena Yacoobi, Founder of Afghan Institute of Learning
Year and stage of Global Fund investment in the Afghan Institute of Learning:
- $10,000 for general support. This was AIL’s first grant received from an international funder, and helped the group to leverage additional funds and support.
- $16,000 for school fees to enroll students in two refugee schools and support the opening of 10 underground schools in Afghanistan.
- $30,000 to open three new locations, and support operation of nine schools for refugees in Pakistan, 21 pre-schools for 350 girls and boys, and 71 underground schools for 2400 girls.
- $70,000 to strengthen teacher training program in Afghanistan, upgrade the quality of education in its girls’ schools and open 11 women’s learning centers in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
- $84,800 to support women’s learning centers and the Afghan Women’s University. As of 2003, the group has trained 7,000 teachers. It is the only Afghan women’s organization in existence with the capacity to deliver holistic and critically needed education, health and human rights programs for girls and women in both Pakistan and many parts of Afghanistan. In addition, AIL is the largest employer of Afghan women.
- $45,500 to expand women’s learning centers, parlay teacher training expertise into an education magazine and launch a four-year, post-secondary curriculum on mathematics and computer science. Also includes support to help Afghan refugees rebuild after the earthquake.
- $5,000 Trust grant. (Trust grants are awarded by out-going GFW Board members.)