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Dec 19, 2018

The Future of Afghanistan Depends on Education

Khodi Dust Girls' Higher Primary School
Khodi Dust Girls' Higher Primary School

“The only way to prevent Afghanistan from going backward is education.”

 These words hung heavily in the hot air of a teacher’s lounge in a small village in Nangarhar province last year during a conversation about the future of Afghanistan with CAI Communications Director Hannah White.

They were spoken by Muhammad Asif, an Islamic Studies teacher for grades 9 – 12 at Khodi Dust Girls’ Higher Secondary School. Muhammad is passionate about education, and he truly believes it is the only thing that can save his country.

Muhammad was born in this village, but his family moved just over the border to Pakistan where he lived for 18 years when the war in Afghanistan got too dangerous. There he studied Islam before returning back home to raise his children. Now, the Pakistani government is discouraging non-citizens from attending their schools and private schools are too expensive. He brought his family home to receive educations and to be a teacher himself.

“I work for the children, not for the salary,” he says.

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Oct 11, 2018

Women's Empowerment through Education

Gaining the Power of Choice in Central Asia

We don’t usually spend time considering the impacts of human choice unless our power to choose for ourselves is taken away. But for many young women living in Central Asia, the right to choose how their lives unfold was never an option. Whether dictated by culture, circumstance, family, or poverty, their paths are often already set. These young women may never make their own decisions about their career, their spouse, or even how they spend their days.

It’s all too common for women in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan to surrender their chance for education and career to help their struggling families, frequently by marrying an older man or working as low-wage laborers.

But self-determination is a dream that many young women hold onto. And for the hundreds of women who received scholarships each year from Central Asia Institute, choosing education over old cultural norms allows them to discover their own power, their own ability to make the world a better place.

Whether in your own community or by lending support from afar, you have the opportunity to help these women exercise their right to choose the path their life takes. CAI works hard to identify and give financial support to women of all ages – pursuing their dreams of education in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. And for a Tajiki teacher approaching the age of 50, the chance to make her own life choices is more important now than ever.


Learn about Safarkhotun's journey.


Jul 25, 2018

ISIS Attack on CAI-Supported Schools

We are deeply saddened to report that earlier this month ISIS militants in Afghanistan attacked two schools supported by Central Asia Institute. Fortunately, neither students nor staff were hurt in the attack, however, the main gate and adjoining portions of the boundary wall were destroyed when a bomb was detonated. CAI’s implementing partner in the region, Star of Knowledge (SKO), has made the decision for the safety of everyone involved, to temporarily suspend program activities at those locations. SKO and the community will continue to evaluate the situation and determine next steps at a later date.


Our hearts go out to the communities touched by this tragedy, as we reaffirm our pledge to support education for children and women across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, even in the most isolated and dangerous areas. This act of terrorism will not stop the will to access education, or the efforts of our in-country partners to provide it.

Central Asia Institute works where other organizations can’t or won’t. We will continue to support the people of Afghanistan’s desire for education through financial and programmatic support so that every girl can go to a school where she feels safe and every woman can obtain the livelihood skills she needs to be empowered.

It is our firm belief that education is the surest path to peace, and we are committed to standing with the people of Afghanistan to achieve peace through education.

James Thaden, Executive Director
Central Asia Institute


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