When Aqeela Asifi was nominated for the “Global Teachers Prize” in 2016, she was also nominated alongside ten of the best and most dedicated teachers from around the world – which is an achievement within itself.
“If you educate girls, you educate generations.” – Aqeela Asifi
Aqeela set up a school in a borrowed tent and worked hard to overcome resistance and negative attitudes. Twenty families agreed to their daughters being educated and Aqeela initially focused on teaching non-controversial subjects such as personal hygiene, home management skills and religious education. After gaining the trust of the community, Aqeela was able to introduce literacy, Dari language, mathematics, geography and history. There was no money for resources like blackboards so Aqeela stitched pieces of cloth with handwritten text to the tent walls and wrote books by hand at night. Her students traced their first words in dust on the floor.
Today, there are nine schools in the camp with many female teachers and over 1,500 students including 900 girls. With education, early and forced marriages in the community have declined.
Aqeela’s school has produced over 1,000 graduates (mainly Afghan refugee girls, but also local Pakistani children). Some have become doctors, engineers, government officials and teachers.