MENU menu
  • Awarded: 2006
  • Issue Areas: Early Childhood to Primary Education · Health · Health Delivery · Human Rights · Peace · Women's and Girls' Education
  • Countries Served: Afghanistan · Algeria · American Samoa · Pakistan
  • Web:
  • Download Profile Pdf

    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.

    Testing by Katie on 4/10

    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.

    Testing by Katie on 4/10

    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.


    Testing by Katie on 4/10

    Born in Herat, Afghanistan, Sakena Yacoobi came to the United States in the 1970s to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public health. In the 1980s, she worked as a health consultant at D’Etre University in Michigan. From 1992 to 1995, she worked 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. During that time, 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. Sakena was determined to keep education, training and health programs going, despite the Taliban’s opposition. From her experience working with many Afghans in the refugee camps, Sakena realized that a new approach was needed. She founded the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in 1995 to address these issues. Dr. Yacoobi and AIL have received many awards including the Sunhak Peace Prize (2017), the Harold W. McGraw Prize in Education (2016), the WISE Prize for Education Laureate (2015) and the Opus Prize (2013). Dr. Yacoobi has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Testing by Katie on 4/10

    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.
    • Testing by Katie on 4/10


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

    See All Awardees →