Meet Aqeela Asifi, Afghan Educator Of Uprooted Girls, Winner Of UN Refugee Award
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“Every individual has a responsibility when it comes to education because if you talk about the progress of society, that is only possible through education. The best thing would be if every educated person could try to support education. Fund a child if you can, It’s not the responsibility of one organisation, one country, one teacher. It’s the responsibility of every single person.”
Aqeela Asifi has summed up the importance of imparting the correct education and the responsibility on the shoulders of each individual.
Speaking more about Aqeela, she is an Afghan refugee whose tent school has empowered thousands of girls and opened the doors of education for them since the past 23 years.
She was recently awarded Nansen refugee award in Geneva this month. The 49-year-old Afghan teacher appeared with her husband, Sher Mohammed, and youngest daughter, Sawera, 11. However she felt that she had failed as a mother when it came to the education of her older daughters.
Asifi’s four daughters all went to school, but the older three stopped soon after eighth grade- the end of middle school because of community pressures and the lack of secondary facilities in Kot Chandana village in Punjab’s Mianwali district, where they have lived all their lives. One of her daughters is now married.
Aqeela Asifi’s passion for education is evident in everything she says.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I was inspired by my own teachers,” Ms Asifi recalls.
“I was lucky to be born in a very enlightened and liberal family. My parents were very supportive of my and my siblings’ education.”
She has bought in a drastic change in the current education system present in refugee countries. Women empowerment has been influenced throughout these camps.
She believes that instilling a belief in the power of education for girls in this generation will transform the opportunities of the next. “When you have mothers who are educated, you will almost certainly have future generations who are educated,” she said. “So if you educate girls, you educate generations. I wish for the day when people will remember Afghanistan, not for war, but for its standard of education.”
“Access to education is a basic human right. Yet for millions of refugee children it is a lifeline to a better future which they have been heartbreakingly denied,” said UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Khaled Hosseini.