|Afghan teacher Aqeela Asifi|
The winner of the prize is expected to be announced on 13th March in Dubai and each of the 10 finalists will be featured by the organization. Aqeela was forced to leave Afghanistan in 1992 due to the civil war and shifted to Pakistan along with millions of other Afghans. Shocked with the deeply conservative Afghans refugees in the camps who were regarding education with suspicion preferring to put their children to work, Aqeela started her first school in a borrowed tent, spending as much time educating parents on the benefits of education as their children. “There was no money and no equipment: her first pupils spelt out their work in the dust of the tent floor. Careful to be sensitive to religious and tribal sensibilities, word spread amongst both the Afghan refugees and the local Pakistani families who started to send their daughters to Aqeela’s school. She gained the trust of the community and was rewarded increased attendances,” according to a feature published about Aqeela by the Global Teacher Prize organization. Today, over 1500 pupils are enrolled in her schools of whom 900 are girls. Her graduates are carrying the message back home - two of her former pupils have opened schools for girls in Afghanistan and other have started businesses, become doctors or government employees . “I am particularly proud of those who have made their decision to return to Afghanistan and become active agents of change at a time when their country needs them most”, Aqeela says. Aqeela’s school has produced over 1000 graduates (mainly Afghan refugee girls). Some have become doctors, engineers, government officials and teachers in Afghanistan.