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  • Awarded: 2006
  • Issue Areas: Early Childhood to Primary Education · Education · Health · Health Delivery · Peace · Peace and Human Rights · Women's and Girls' Education
  • Countries Served: Afghanistan · Pakistan
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    About the Organization

    The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) is rebuilding education and health systems in Afghanistan through its holistic approach that combines innovative education and healthcare with health education and training programs. AIL benefits all needy people (70 percent of them female). It is an Afghan organization run mainly by women that seeks to help Afghans rebuild their lives and society one community at a time.

    Founder Dr. Sakena Yacoobi realized that only healthy people can learn and improve their lives and that education is crucial to the development of individuals and communities. Training good teachers is central to creating a high-quality educational system. People need training in areas such as peace, elections, leadership, and democracy, so they can model and then rebuild the core values of a society based on respect, economic opportunity, and care for all.

    AIL’s success is based on the quality of its staff, their training, and the quality services that they provide, but also on the courage of the individuals and communities who come for education, training, and healthcare.

    Thirty years of warfare have destroyed Afghanistan's education and family service systems.

    AIL's Learning Centers provide comprehensive health and education services.

    AIL's vision is a peaceful Afghanistan where everyone knows how to read and has quality family health care.

    Ambition for Change

    Educational opportunity and access to quality health care available to communities throughout Afghanistan.

    Path to Scale

    Program Growth and Independent Replication

    AIL seeks to grow its program by securing resources to provide services to more communities where opportunities do not exist, and to support communities that do have public or voluntary infrastructure with training.

    Born in Herat, Afghanistan, Sakena Yacoobi came to the United States in the 1970s to earn degrees in public health. She worked as a health consultant at D’Etre University in Michigan, and then for the International Rescue Committee in Pakistan, increasing the number of Afghan refugee girls enrolled in IRC-supported schools from 3,000 to 15,000. She also served on the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief delegation of the United Nations, as well as on the United Nations Rehabilitation Plan for Afghanistan. During the mid-1990s, funding for education and health programs in Afghanistan was cut dramatically as a result of the Taliban’s grip on power. Determined to keep education and health programs going, despite the Taliban’s opposition, she founded Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in 1995. AIL reaches communities through a network of Women’s Learning Centers (WLCs) and Educational Learning Centers (ELCs). WLCs are comprehensive health and education service centers designed to meet multiple needs of Afghan women, such as reproductive and early childhood health. ELCs are building Afghanistan’s educational infrastructure by providing teacher training, administrative support and school materials and supplies to thousands of young Afghan students. At the time of the Award, AIL had trained 10,000 teachers and was providing health services and education to more than 350,000 women and children every year.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • Trained 21,364 teachers serving more than 3 million students.
    • More than 10,000 people trained in health workshops in 11 provinces.
    • 95 percent of participants in leadership workshops practiced leadership in their own communities as a result.
    • 332 ELCs providing education to 400,000 women and children each year. These centers have been replicated by others across Afghanistan, reaching populations with no prior access to education, teaching literacy, computers, math, and sewing.
    • AIL operates a hospital in Herat, treating 2,000 patients per month.


    Ehsan Ahmad SahelGeneral Coordinator of Academic and Educational Affairs, Afghan Institute of Learning

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