Training effective Afghan Teachers

by Afghan Institute of Learning
A teacher trained by AIL working with students
A teacher trained by AIL working with students

Dear Friends,

I’m sure we all remember that one teacher who made an impact on us in school. Maybe they were so knowledgeable that you couldn’t help but respect them. Or perhaps their class made learning fun, instead of a chore. Maybe they were the teacher that never stopped until they had exhausted every option for reaching out to their students. The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) feels that every student deserves to be taught by great teachers, and that’s why teacher training is really at the core of our work.

To help improve the quality of teaching in Afghanistan, AIL offers a variety of workshops to teachers, structured to meet the unique needs of each group. In November of 2014, the AIL staff traveled to a remote location to train the teachers in a very poor area. The group of teachers included both men and women, and when the workshop began, the female teachers were very unsure of themselves, afraid to share their thoughts in front of the men. The AIL staff continued the workshop, encouraging the women, and by the end the women had gained the courage necessary to share their thoughts and opinions with the entire group. The female teachers reported feeling brave and full of confidence at the completion of the workshop, which was a great victory for all.

 Many of the teachers involved in the November workshop were unaware of any teaching methods, other than rote memorization. Our staff was so pleased to bring new teaching techniques to these teachers, and to empower them to use the new techniques in their classrooms. At the end of the workshop, participants remarked that they were excited to try the new techniques in their classrooms. Many said that the workshop had shown them that the way they had been teaching was not very professional, but that they now understood what was expected of them and the best ways to reach out to their students. They asked our staff to please find a way to come to the area again and to continue helping them to be the best teachers possible.

In 2014, you helped AIL to offer training to nearly 1,200 teachers in Afghanistan and the refugee camps of Pakistan! Thank you for seeing the value in educating Afghan teachers, and for supporting AIL’s work.

A Teacher Trainer by AIL
A Teacher Trainer by AIL

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for the support of the Afghan Institute of Learning’s (AIL) work training Afghan teachers. So far in 2014, 729 teachers have been trained, and 477 of those have been women. AIL trains teachers to encourage their students to use critical thinking skills to solve problems, and use group work in their classrooms, rather than relying on rote memorization. In addition to month long, intensive trainings, AIL offers ongoing training to teachers at AIL Learning Centers and several private schools, as well as short one hour workshops to address a particular topic with the teachers.

AIL’s workshops often help new teachers feel more prepared to enter the classroom as a teacher. Nasreen, a 21 year old teacher at a private school was in one of AIL’s recent teacher training seminars and said “I graduated last year and was assigned to teach at my current school, but I confess that I didn’t know anything about teaching. I faced so many problems. For instance, I didn’t know how to keep my students interested in the lessons or how to motivate or inspire them. I have always wanted to be a teacher, hoping that I would be able to guide my students in the best possible way. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very successful.

I think this is about to change now that I have participated in the AIL teacher training seminar. I have learned so many skills and methods, which I am planning to use in my classes. I really feel like I have become a professional teacher and am much better prepared to walk in to my classroom.”

Thank you so much for supporting our efforts to train Afghan teachers to be the best possible educators for their students. Each year, your support helps AIL to train nearly 1,000 teachers – teachers who reach upwards of 30,000 students in their careers. Thank you for understanding the value of education, and of quality teaching.

We have attached our year end newsletter to this report and hope you will take a few minutes to read it. 

Teachers in a Workshop
Teachers in a Workshop

Thank you so much for your support of the Afghan Institute of Learning’s (AIL) Teacher Training program! As the situation in Afghanistan changes, it becomes more important than ever for AIL to train teachers to teach students to think critically, rather than rely on rote memorization in the classrooms. In addition, AIL also invites teachers to workshops on topics such as leadership, health, and democracy, knowing that the teachers will carry these lessons back to their classrooms to share with their students. 

Two workshops were recently held for 76 teachers in a part of Herat Province facing significant bouts of insecurity. The schools were adamant that they want their teachers to be among the best, and AIL decided that they would go and work with the teachers. Our staff reported that the teachers were so thankful to AIL for coming out to their village and working with them.

One of the new teachers shared a sentiment that is familiar to any new teacher. The young woman said, “I just graduated and I am excited to teach, but I keep thinking that it is going to be so difficult to teach a classroom full of students. I know my subject well, but what is the best way to teach it? I began to worry that I wasn’t going to be able to run my class efficiently because I’ve never taught before. This seminar has taught me so many new techniques and now I feel confident to step in to my classroom. During the seminar I had the chance to teach a sample lesson and then be evaluated by the trainers and participants. This was the most beneficial part of the seminar, and really helped me to understand how to use the new teaching methods that I learned. Now I am confident that I will be a good teacher for my students.” 

Another teacher named Zia participated in the seminar. Every day during Zia’s classes, her students were loud and clearly uninterested in the subjects she was teaching. She didn’t know what was causing the students to behave so poorly and was frustrated. During the seminar taught by AIL, Zia learned new teaching techniques and soon realized that her students were acting out of boredom. As soon as the seminar was over, she began using the new techniques she learned in her classroom and saw an immediate change. Now, her students are showing a great deal of interest in the lessons, and the student’s marks are improving. We are so happy to hear that things in Zia’s classroom have improved so dramatically! 

As Afghanistan continues to move forward, more and more children and adults are seeing out education, but the country simply does not have enough qualified teachers to educated everyone yet. Your support is helping to change this. To date your support has helped AIL to offer trainings and workshops to 597 teachers, 356 of whom were women. Thank you for seeing the value in educating the teachers of Afghanistan and for supporting our project!

Stills from the Music Video
Stills from the Music Video

Let’s put our hands together, let’s get together.

Our hands hold our votes and our votes hold our future.


My fellow citizen It’s my vote, it’s your vote

It’s a privilege for enduring peace

My dear fellow citizen, with our vote leadership is in our hands.

             On April 5th, an historic election was held in Afghanistan. Over 7 million voters participated, and the elections were generally a peaceful affair. We at AIL hosted election workshops leading up to the vote, and asked the managers of our Learning Centers to educate students at the centers about why the vote was important, what steps they needed to take in order to vote, how to research and select candidates, and how to vote.

            The effort to encourage Afghans to vote was not limited to our workshops and Learning Centers however. At a private school owned by Dr. Sakena Yacoobi (our CEO) the Arts and Culture Teacher, Mehrjui, set a poem she had written about the election to music. The song encourages all Afghans to become aware of their responsibilities, to select a good candidate for President and to vote. The PSYPS Arts and Culture students sang this song at a celebration on International Women’s Day as well as at our election workshops. The song was incredibly well received, moving many in the audience.

            The students, staff, and administration at the school quickly realized how powerful their song was, so with the help of the AIL Academic Advisor and the AIL video production team, they set about recording their song so that it could be shared with a wider audience. They had no idea how popular the song was about to become.

            The song quickly went viral, being aired on Afghanistan’s National TV station, as well as on eleven other stations. The song has been played many times over and candidates running for president even asked if they could buy the song to use in their campaign. The PSYPS students and staff declined to sell the song, deciding the purpose of the song was to encourage all Afghans to participate in the elections, not to support just one candidate.

             As Afghanistan moves closer to a runoff election this summer, the song continues to be played on the radio and the video over the airwaves. In short, the song continues to encourage Afghans to participate in the upcoming elections and to make sure their voices are heard.

             We encourage you to take a moment to view the video made by the students, to read the lyrics below and to see the hope in these young people’s faces. After watching, we hope that you will stand with the youth of Afghanistan, and join us as we work with them to create a peaceful future for their nation. 

(Chorus Song)

Let’s put our hands together, let’s get together.

Our hands hold our votes and our votes hold our future.


With one vote, we can be our sultan, our voice

For a better choice for a better leader


My fellow citizen It’s my vote, it’s your vote

It’s a privilege for enduring peace

My dear fellow citizen, with our vote leadership is in our hand


My fellow citizen, stride, my fellow citizen!

With the name of God, we speak from the power of our thoughts

From our decision, unity, humanity and right

No longer speak of suicide bombing, explosion, but of creativity and pride

Don’t speak of the hills under the thorn

Speak of the friendship of verdant soil and the rose garden

Speak of spring, spring and spring



Let’s hope that this spring Afghanistan will turn into a magnificent garden. A garden in which the smell of every rose invites the world for a spectacle.

Let’s hope for a different spring, for a different year and for a different Afghanistan

Don’t forget my fellow citizen, our rendezvous is in front of ballot boxes on April 5, 2014


(Chorus Song)

Our choice is the remedy

Our choice is for the day of rendezvous

Who we want will be crowned sultan


My fellow citizen, stride, my fellow citizen!


Attend the opportunity with passion and turn the enemies into wretches

This colored finger is the guiding path and this fist is the hummer for the oppressor


My fellow citizen, stride, my fellow citizen!


Teachers Reviewing New Materials
Teachers Reviewing New Materials

Hi everyone! AIL has been hard at work training teachers in dozens of different workshops and seminars, all tailored to what the teachers need most in their classrooms. With AIL Learning Centers growing at a healthy pace, the demand for effective teachers is also growing…this is something that your support is helping to make a reality. Last year, AIL trained nearly 1,700 teachers, 1,300 of whom were female. Teachers participated in 118 workshops and seminars with topics ranging from teaching techniques and lesson planning to ethics and problem solving. Your donations have made it possible for AIL’s teachers to take part in a wide variety of these trainings to become well-rounded instructors, capable of being flexible to fill many roles while also being able to provide high-quality instruction to their students.

Freeba, a teacher at one of our centers, took part in a short workshop covering how to create effective tests. She said:

I had problems with giving tests to my students. I didn't know how to make questions so that they weren’t boring or too difficult for the children. After this seminar, I now know how to prepare questions for exams.”

Another teacher, Jamila, took part in a teaching methodology seminar. After participating in the seminar, she reported back to us and said:

“My 2nd grade students were restless and I had difficulty teaching them. I continued teaching but they weren’t learning. In the seminar, they taught us subjects on teaching methods. It was exactly what I was looking for. I learned many teaching methods. For instance, I learned about group work and presentation techniques.

I went to my class and taught my lessons again using the new methods I learned. I noticed that all my students, including those who had difficulties before, learned it well. I feel a change now. I can use these methods in my own way of teaching after this. I wish all teachers could participate in these types of seminars.”

We would like to thank you so much for your support of the Train Effective Afghan Teachers program. Without supporters like you, we couldn’t have accomplished what we have or what we plan to do in the future. Thank you!!


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Organization Information

Afghan Institute of Learning

Location: Dearborn, Michigan - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Sakena Yacoobi
Dearborn, Michigan United States

Funded Project!

Thanks to 108 donors like you, a total of $10,505 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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