Here at RubyMoon, we believe in the power of the individual. Each of us has the potential to contribute to the betterment of our surroundings, but we require education and access to resources. This is why we support Lendwithcare, an initiative of CARE International, which lifts women out of economic instability, allowing them to invest in the future of their families.
Growing up, I rarely appreciated the role of my teachers at school. My friends and I would constantly think of ways to cause havoc or happily encourage any form of disruption initiated by others. Often in society we underestimate the power of education and therefore take teaching for granted. However, teachers are the pillars of society, and without them, society would not progress, socially, economically or spiritually. Our experience as learners is determined by the education we receive; how often does our motivation to pursue an interest or career stem from an inspiring teacher? Undoubtedly, the education system is not perfect and teaching is challenging which is why it is no surprise that secondary school teachers are included in the UK government’s Shortage Occupation List. However, as an apology to my teachers and upon realising that education is truly important (more the latter), this piece is a celebration of educators and those striving to bring about positive change.
There are many examples of women who, under exceptional circumstances, have taken extreme measures to ensure that education is accessible to others. Sakena Yacoobi is the founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), an initiative that grew from the closure of girls schools by the Taliban. Established in 1995, AIL provided education for 3,000 girls in Afghanistan in underground home schools. Troubled by the situation in her home country and concerned for the wellbeing of others, Sakena decided to return to Pakistan after pursuing her studies in the United States; during this time, Pakistan was home to millions of refugees from Afghanistan. Since 1996, AIL’s education and health programs has benefited 12 million Afghans.
Of course, the establishment of schools posed tremendously difficult challenges. The education of women was banned in areas controlled by the Taliban, contributing to an environment of distrust and fear. During her travels to different educational gatherings for women, she was stopped several times by a group of armed men, who insisted that they also wanted to receive education. Initially, Sakena did not fulfill their wishes, but after a few encounters, she started training them. Through this they “became the best trainers, learned English, computers skills and became guides for others”. With reference to this, she powerfully states in her TED Talk, “Education transforms people. When you educate people, they are going to be different. We cannot only educate women, we must educate men also”.
Watch the TED Talk here!