- Sakena Yacoobi
- Educator and founder of Afghan Institute of Learning
Sakena Yacoobi had the conviction that education is the only hope for the suffering Afghan refugees scarred by decades of war.
In 1995, she founded the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and provided education and vocational training to 13 million refugees and contributed greatly to the improvement of Muslim women’s rights and social status. Even under life-threatening circumstances of the Taliban regime, Dr. Yacoobi educated more than 3,000 girls in over 80 underground schools. Unlike the first generation of Afghan refugees, whose pioneering efforts were devastated by despair and poverty, the second and third generation refugees have become leaders for their community's reconstruction.
Devoted her life to Afghan refugee education
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, known as the mother of Afghan education, has been a pioneering and devoted educator of refugees for 24 years working under the conviction that education is key to social reconstruction.
Dr. Yacoobi began educating teachers and establishing schools for boys and girls in Afghan refugee camps where people were struggling to survive after decades of war and a complete collapse of the education and the health system. In 1995, she established the Afghan Institute for Learning (AIL) to provide systematic refugee education and provided education and vocational training to 13 million women and children. Despite the Taliban regime's ban on women's schools, AIL successfully operated and educated more than 3,000 girls.
Currently, AIL provides curricula for kindergarten through university education and 44 education centers provide basic literacy education and various vocational courses, opening the way for refugees to generate income. Under the aim of helping refugees to become independent citizens capable of critical thinking, AIL has been providing education in leadership, democracy, self-confidence, and capacity-building.
As a result, refugees who have been educated at AIL have improved their self-confidence, economic power, and problem-solving abilities and are successfully leading their community’s rebuilding process. The Afghan refugee community, which has experienced displacement for more than 30 years, now feels that education is a pathway to a better future and a key element for the country's reconstruction and that its educated young people will play a leading role in Afghanistan's future.
Presented a holistic solution to refugee resettlement
Dr. Yacoobi introduced a holistic approach to rebuilding communities destroyed by war. As a comprehensive and long-term approach to solving inadequate educational, economic, socio-cultural, and institutional constraints of refugee camps, it contributes to improving the overall quality of life and developing the community for Afghan refugees.
Creating Hope International (CHI), an organization co-founded by Dr. Yacoobi, provides technical assistance to four private schools, hospitals, and radio stations, including the Afghan Institute of Learning. Through its projects since 1996, CHI has provided health education to more than 2 million women and children significantly reducing infant mortality and maternal mortality rates during pregnancy and childbirth. It also provides Love and Forgiveness workshops to help transform refugees who have been surrounded by social deprivation and anger into positive leaders who can revive their local communities. Its radio broadcasting reaches more than a million people a day and covers a diverse range of topics including social trends, health, family success models, human rights, literature, and music to support the desire of refugees for a peaceful and fruitful life.
All community rebuilding processes are carried out in cooperation with the community itself, allowing the community to build a sense of ownership in the project. By providing consultation and organizing projects that are needed by the community rather than providing one-sided aid, these projects have revolutionized the refugee resettlement dynamic, providing a win-win situation for both the local community and government agencies.
Contributed to the improvement of human rights and the status of Muslim women
Dr. Yacoobi is committed to educating Muslim women with the belief that "to educate girls is to educate future generations." Afghanistan has the world's lowest literacy rate, with only 12.6% of women over 15 years of age being able to read and write. It is due to elements of Islamic culture opposing women's education and protracted conflicts. To address this serious situation, Dr. Yacoobi has been aggressively persuading community leaders and has changed prejudices about women's education. As a result, many women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan are now educated. In recent years, Dr. Yacoobi even established a women’s university. She has provided family planning services and contraception advice, which has liberated women from unwanted childbirth and rearing. She also runs a women's legal counseling center in Afghanistan and provides legal advice services for women on issues such as domestic abuse, child custody, inheritance rights, and marriage without consent.
Women who were isolated in their homes are now able to receive education through Women's Networking Centers. They are given opportunities to take classes, read and learn, engage in income-generating activities, and participate in society. Through education, these women are able to plan their future, improve health, contribute economically to their families and guarantee the education of future generations. These educated women are playing a very important role in helping the Afghan refugees escape the cycle of poverty.
- March 17, 1950
- Awarded for
- Presenting a fundamental solution to refugee resettlement through education and contributing to the improvement of human rights and status of Muslim women
1977 Bachelor of Biology, University of the Pacific (California, USA)
1981 Master's Degree in Public Health, Loma Linda University (California, USA)
2008 Master's Degree in Public Health, Loma Linda University (California, USA)
2007 Honorary Doctorate of Laws, University of the Pacific (California, USA)
2008 Honorary Doctorate of Humanitarian Service, Loma Linda University (California, USA)
2010 Honorary Doctorate of Education from Santa Clara University (California, USA)
2013 Honorary Doctor of Laws, Princeton University (New Jersey, USA)
2014 Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, University of St. Joseph (Connecticut, USA)
2016 Honorary doctorate of Humane Letters, Middlebury Institute of International Studies (Vermont, USA)
1982-Present Established Creating Hope International (CHI) in Michigan, USA
1982-1991 Health Consultant
1989-1992 D Etre University (Michigan, USA)
1992-1995 International Rescue Committee (IRC) women's education and teacher training program
1992-2001 Operated more than 80 underground "secret" schools for girls (3,000 students)
1995-Present Founder and President of Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL)
2007-Present Founded four Professor Sakena Yacoobi Private School facilities in Kabul and Herat, Afghanistan (K-12), the Professor Sakena Yacoobi Private Hospital and Clinic, and Radio Meraj 94.1FM
The Mother of Refugee Education ‘Sakena Yacoobi’
- Planning & Editing
- Sunhak Peace Prize Secretariat
- Publishing House
- MIRAE BOOK
- January 25, 2018
- Table of Contents
Chapter 1. From Peace into the Vortex of Tragedy
Chapter 2. Building Afghanistan's Future
Chapter 3. The Mother of Refugee Education
Chapter 4. The Sunhak Peace Prize for Future Generations