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Peace Education

Sunhak Laureate Given World Citizen Award

Istanbul, Turkey—Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, a recipient of the 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize, an initiative of UPF, has been honored with the TRT World Citizen Educator Award.

The Afghan educator, who braved the threat of the Taliban to bring education to Afghan girls, was presented with the award on October 5, 2018, at the TRT World Forum organized by Turkish public broadcaster TRT.

Dr. Yacoobi was recognized for setting up 80 secret schools for 3,000 girls in Afghanistan.

In accepting her award, Dr. Yacoobi said: “I was happy to be invited here, because the world doesn’t know what is going on with the children who are in war zones, who are in refugee camps, who lost their parents, who lost their homes, who don’t have the environment to quietly sit and read and write or draw a picture ... who every time they hear a sound think a bomb is exploding. To work with these traumatized children is joyful. When you look in their faces, when they smile and then they play, it is another world.”

Dr. Yacoobi paid tribute to her dedicated staff at the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and said the Educator Award is “for the children and women in Afghanistan and around the world who are suffering.”

She started working in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan in the early 1990s, training teachers, opening schools for children and learning centers for women. In 1995, she established the Afghan Institute of Learning, which now serves 350,000 people each year, of whom 70 percent are girls and women.

Dr. Yacoobi pioneered a ground-breaking approach that empowered women and communities to bring education and health services to girls living in rural and poverty-stricken urban areas.

Earlier Dr. Yacoobi said: “Education has a direct link with living a better life … with transforming civil society … with getting out of poverty. Education can do all these things.”

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