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Dec 16, 2016

The Unstoppable Girls' Education Revolution

Gulobshoeva: Kindergarten Teacher in Tajikistan
Gulobshoeva: Kindergarten Teacher in Tajikistan

The Unstoppable Revolution Starts With Girls' Education

There is a quiet revolution taking place in the mountains, along the streams, in the cities, and the small villages throughout Central Asia. This revolution has nothing to do with warlords or violent clashes. It has everything to do with books, pencils, and empowering women. This movement is an unstoppable revolution for girls' education. All through the region, girls and women are determined to go to school. Education gives them a future; it's the key to becoming unstoppable.

This past spring, our communications director, Hannah White, witnessed first-hand the moments these women and girls realized that, with education, nothing can stop them. She brought back stories and photos to share the Unstoppable Revolution with our supporters and friends. You are making this women's education revolution unstoppable. 

You can read these stories in a photo essay featured in the lastest Journey of Hope magazine, but here are a few bonus images and stories from the many women and girls who have picked up chalkboards and books to declare themselves unstoppable. 

Gulobshoeva Zarnigor, is a teacher at a CAI-supported kindergarten in Tajikistan.  CAI teacher trainings help make her unstoppable, "The training helped a lot. Now teachers talk less, kids are happier, and they learn more."  Before CAI teacher-training courses, Gulobshoeva and her fellow teachers had outdated lessons from the former Soviet Union. Now they use stories to keep the kids interested and create interactive lessons. 

Salima wants to be a doctor to help victims of landmines. She attends the third-grade level class at one of CAI's Quick Learning Centers (QLC) in Kabul.  QLCs are programs designed to help older students who have never attended school to catch up to their peers before they enter a classroom.  The class has 30 students, all of whom are girls.  They are broken up into five or six groups, each with a student team leader.  Salima is one of the group leaders, and she's determined to remain unstoppable until she reaches her goal.

Anisa is also attending the QLC and wants to be a policewoman who protects people when she grows up. Anisa accidentally dropped a brick on her foot the morning before this photo was taken, but it didn't keep her from being unstoppable, "I hurt my toe. It is hard to walk, but I wanted to come to class."

Empowering Women and Girls Through Education

All over Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, girls and women are empowered to be part of this unstoppable revolution for girls' education. Some of them go to school despite disapproval from their families or long treks to the nearest classroom. They want to read and write, they want to have careers, and they want to help other women find what makes them unstoppable too. 

Salima: Quick Learning Center in Kabul
Salima: Quick Learning Center in Kabul
Anisa: Quick Learning Center in Kabul
Anisa: Quick Learning Center in Kabul


Sep 21, 2016

Fill the Chairs

The morning of August 25, a 10 hour assault on the American University of Afghanistan by unidentified militants came to an end. Witnesses recounted that the attack began with an explosion, which allowed militants to breach the campus gate and enter the premises. Gunmen in plain clothes then attacked students, teachers, and staff.

Students and teachers reportedly jumped out of second-story windows and leapt walls in an effort to escape.

The University is a growing hub for Afghan intellectualism, and boasts more than 1,700 students (many of whom are women). It was not surprising then that the U.S. State Department labeled the incident “an attack on the future of Afghanistan.” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also spoke out about the incident saying in a statement, this “will not only fail to shake our determination, but will further strengthen it to fight and eradicate terror.”

This assault on education and peace hits at the core of our mission and our hearts. Central Asia Institute condemns this heinous act in the strongest possible way. In this time of grief we would like to share our condolences with those families who lost someone and send our wishes for the speedy recovery of those who were wounded.

Newton’s third law states, that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Our reaction to terrorism and ignorance, is peace and education. So we are making a pledge.

For every student who was killed in this horrific attack, the global CAI family will provide a scholarship to send one student to school.

We cannot do it alone. We all grieve for the innocent lives lost. But grieving alone will not change anything. Let us fill the classroom chairs that are now empty.

The Guardian reports that at least 16 people lost their lives in the assault, including eight students and two professors, and dozens more were injured. These young women and men were the next Afghan leaders, the next Afghan peacemakers, and the best hope for a bright future.

Take a stand against violence. #Fill the chairs. The future of education in Afghanistan depends on the action you take today.


Jun 24, 2016

Update from the field - Central Asia Institute

In 2014 alone there were over 13,000 terrorist attacks worldwide.

“They blow up our schools. They kill our teachers,” said Muhammad Asif, a teacher at Khodi Dust Girl’s Higher Secondary School, of extremists in the area.  He teaches in a remote, conservative village in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province.

“Things happen in other provinces and parents won’t let kids come to school for weeks,” he says.

The teachers of Khodi Dust kept telling Central Asia Institute that they felt the surest way to reduce support for militancy was education.

“Without school boys join fighting… We have to resist. There is no choice,” continued Asif. “The only way to prevent Afghanistan from going backwards is education.”

The school where Asif works accommodates 638 girls and 153 boys. The future of these 791 children is precarious, but with education their futures will be much brighter, especially if the girls are educated.

As women become more educated, they are less likely to support militancy and terrorism than similarly educated men, according to a University of Maryland School of Public Policy survey. The survey of Pakistani women also found that uneducated women are more likely to support militancy and terrorism than similarly educated men.

The impact is long-lasting. Young men and boys recruited by extremist groups are required to get their mothers' blessings before joining such an organization, or going on a suicide mission. So, girls who are educated - especially who complete secondary school - grow up to be mothers who are less likely to give their sons permission to pursue violent solutions.

The communities we serve are working tirelessly to provide their children with opportunities. Central Asia Institute will do no less.

To learn more about this issue and others be sure to sign up for our blog, Field Notes (

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