Teacher in Pakistani Refugee Camp Nominated for $1m Global Teacher Award

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Aqeela Asifi is a teacher whose struggle in the field of teaching has been recognized internationally. Due to her efforts to increase literacy among the refugee population, she is awarded the $1 million Global Teacher Prize under the management of the Varkey Foundation.

Aqeela Asifi – From War-Displaced Refugee to Teacher

Aqeela (49) left Afghanistan in 1992 to take shelter in Kot Chandna, a refugee camp in Punjab. There was no school in the area while most of the girls were also not educated. In these circumstances, Aqeela started the education of girls living in the refugee camp.

She started her school in a borrowed tent. Teaching of girls was not much encouraged by the locals. Only twenty families in the beginning agreed to let their daughters study in the school. She taught them about home management, personal hygiene, religious education and other such similar non-controversial subjects.

After some time, Aqeela also started the subjects of history, geography, mathematics and Dari language with permission from refugees. Due to absence of books and blackboards, she wrote books by hand and used stitched papers of clothes on tent’s wall for blackboard while the students wrote on the dust of floor.

But now the things have changed. There are more than 1500 students (including 900 girls) and several female teachers. The education has changed the atmosphere of the camp and the numbers of early marriages have reduced. Many of the students of this school are working as leading professionals in Afghanistan.

Aqeela says that providing quality education to boys and girls of underdeveloped countries is the only way that world can help them to progress.

Aqeela achieved the Nansen Refugee Award of UNHCR last year and now she has been awarded for teaching over 20 years in Kot Chandna camp. Now she is also a nominee for Global Teacher Award also.

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