DOHA, Qatar, Nov. 4, 2015 /CNW/ - Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Founder and Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) has been named the 2015 WISE Prize for Education Laureate. Popularly known as Afghanistan's mother of education, Dr.Yacoobi, 65, has spent two decades working persistently to rebuild her country's education landscape, devastated by war.
The WISE Prize for Education was presented by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, at the Opening Plenary session of the seventh World Innovation Summit for Education in Doha, Qatar, before some 2,000 members of the WISE community from diverse fields and over 150 countries.
For Sakena Yacoobi it all began in the early nineties, when she started working in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan. A passionate educator herself, she trained teachers, opened schools for children, and learning centers for women. The Taliban rule in the mid-1990s did not deter Dr. Yacoobi from her mission to provide education and health services to women and children, especially girls. She launched the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in 1995, with the primary objective to improve teacher training through innovation. AIL's teacher training programs focus on quality, in-depth education to Afghan teachers in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Once teachers are trained in the basics of teaching, AIL offers workshops to strengthen their teaching skills.
When the Taliban banned girls' education in the nineties, AIL supported underground home schools for 3,000 girls across the country. It was also the first organization to open learning centers for women in the country and continues to find innovative ways to provide literacy and vocational skills to girls and women.
Under her leadership, AIL has established itself as a groundbreaking, visionary organization which works at the grassroots level to empower women and communities. This bottom up approach has triggered a lasting local transformation. Since its establishment, AIL has brought education and health services to at least 12 million beneficiaries living in rural and marginalized areas of Afghanistan.
The WISE Prize for Education was established in 2011 to raise the status of education by giving it similar prestige to other areas for which international prizes exist, such as literature, peace and economics. The Laureate receives an award of $500,000 (US) and a minted gold medal.