Afghan Institute of Learning
We are investing in a sustainable future for Afghanistan by building the capacity of individuals, helping them realize their potential through education and equipping them with the life skills needed to heal their families, communities and country.
About This Program
Capacity building is needed to help Afghans rebuild their society. We have seen great growth in the desire of Afghans to develop their skills and knowledge beyond basic education such as literacy and simple income-generating skills. AIL provides human rights training, emerging leaders training, and workshops on peace, love and forgiveness and democracy.
AIL provides women with leadership training in workshops to encourage them to participate in local, regional, and country-wide decision making. Participants have gone on to become advocates at all levels of society, even representatives in the Loya Jirga (Afghan Assembly). Habiba Surabi, former Afghan Minister of Women’s Affairs was a past AIL employee who was trained as an AIL Teacher Trainer. The workshops include topics such as: qualities of a leader, advocacy, listening, management, team work, collaboration and supporting others.
AIL supports a two-year Leadership Project at one of the Yacoobi private schools, for 30 youth and covers all aspects of leadership, civic engagement, English, computing and good citizenship.
Human Rights Workshops
We teach women how to advocate for their rights and develop leadership skills. They also learn that religion does not condone violence, including in families, what is appropriate, socially acceptable behavior, and how to safely communicate. AIL also holds workshops on children's rights for both children and adults.
Emerging Leaders Workshops
The goal of the Emerging Leaders Workshops (ELW) is to raise awareness of democratic principles and fundamental rights, strengthen leadership skills, teach techniques in peace building and conflict resolution, and encourage young people to become civically engaged.
Started in 2009 by a group of young graduates of the AIL Leadership Workshops, ELW continues to grow and attract people from government, various NGOs, business, healthcare and universities. Seventy-five percent of attendees are 30 years old or younger. An example of ELW's success is the Emerging Leaders Revolving Loan Fund, which gives access to credit at reasonable interest rates to women. Two women who attended an ELW started the fund, gathering together 120 women from their community who agreed to pool resources and contribute to the fund regularly. The members meet weekly to randomly select a women to receive the funds to use to help with a family or business situation.
Love and Forgiveness Conferences
The Afghan people have suffered from internal conflict for many years. Now it is time to love and forgive each other and help our society and government bring peace and security to the lives of all people.
Afghans want to return to a peaceful way of life. AIL held its first International Conference on Love and Forgiveness in 2012 centered around the poetry of the beloved Afghan Rumi with interludes of Afghan music to provide time for reflection. The conference was attended by poets, writers, Sufis, government officials and people from around the country, and it received coverage in the local, national, and international press. Since then, AIL has held other conferences and a series of workshops in schools on the same themes of peace, ethics, responsibility, social justice, gender, violence, leadership, good citizenship and Rumi.
We encourage people from different races, tribes and backgrounds to come together and choose forgiveness and love over hate, anger and violence.
Today, youth are very interested to learn about love and forgiveness. They want to study philosophy, theosophy and civilization and culture. They are searching for ways to make peace and change the negative minds of people towards love.
I learned that the word of peace means joy, happiness and prosperity that is granted in the life of human beings on the earth. The message of peace brings beauty to the world in which justice and freedom are developed. I learned every member of a community including men, women and children need to unite together for a happy and prosperous future because a life without peace is like a body without soul. No one enjoys their lives without peace. Peace brings meaning to human life. Without peace we no longer can exist. Before coming to this workshop I hadn't known these important points about peace and I regret for that.
Women's Empowerment Group
This group was started to help highly educated women with university degrees develop the skills and network to increase their influence. Professors, doctors, lawyers, judges, journalists, poets, teachers, researchers, business owners, members of parliament, and district, provincial and ministry administrators have attended. It is facilitated by Dr. Yacoobi and senior AIL staff and meets twice a month to discuss topics such as community service, how to run for political office, the role of women in politics, and welfare, health, and culture and how to support other women.
Graduates are given office space in AIL's Herat office, where they continue to meet at least three times a year and have the opportunity to work with the AIL Research Group. A testament to its success, eight months after the first class ended, every member ran for some sort of office or elected position.
Peace Training "Today is a Good Day for Peace"
From the beginning, AIL has included peace messages in all of our classes and workshops, but also holds workshops specifically focused on resolving conflict and discussing issues peacefully. Participants use their new skills to help relatives and neighbors resolve family conflicts, stop abuse, and promote the fact that violence is never the answer.
After participating in the Peace Workshop,I will try to bring a major change into my own personality and this will be the solution of interior problems within myself. Then I will try to solve the conflicts existing in my family, workplace and environment.
Following this workshop, when I face conflicts, I will try to solve them with patience, good skills of communication, preservation of the opposite side’s personality…. as I learned these skills from this workshop….my first step will be to work hard for the removal of rancor and negative perceptions which I have against someone … and then I will try to behave positively to everyone with a spirit of being in a peaceful environment.
Peace is everyone’s need and it is everybody’s responsibility to work hard to bring peace.
AIL helps educate people about elections, democracy and how to participate encouraging all Afghans to believe their voice and vote counts. We want to see a united society where every ethnic group is represented in government with justice and equality for all people.
"I came...to eat lunch. I was not going to vote; neither was my family. After this assembly, my family and I are going to vote. Thank you for helping me stop ignorance."
On April 5, 2014, seven million Afghans, 35% of them women, courageously lined up at the polls and voted. AIL was at the forefront of the get-out-the-vote effort, holding workshops, symposiums, and conferences for over 10,000 women, men and youth. We gathered these diverse voices to discuss their problems, society's problems, the issues facing their country and the world, the importance of elections, the mechanics of how to vote, and the responsibility of each person to evaluate the quality and character of candidates. Even educated participants lacked knowledge of the election process and their right to be a part of it. Both TV and radio reporters attended and the messages reached millions. In the days before the election, AIL was invited to be part of an assembly for 2,000 people in a rural village to speak about the role of citizens and the importance that both men and women participate in the election process.
I liked the information we were given about elections. The speakers spoke so clearly with real life examples. They explained about the dignity of women and their role in elections. The lectures affected me and I felt a lot of motivation to take part in elections because before I had believed voting in the elections was sinful as I had not researched about the personalities and the future plans of candidates. AIL proved that it is my right and I have to vote for someone I think is the right person. Despite being educated I had always ignored finding out about civil affairs of the community. In this conference AIL encouraged me to feel a sense of responsibility and to help the community change for the better. I am going to research the profiles and programs of all candidates and vote for the one that has the best programs for women.
At these popular symposiums, people from different backgrounds and education levels gather to discuss human rights, peace, core values, prose, and poetry. AIL's main office in Herat has a special gathering room called Behzad Hall where the first symposium took place. More symposiums have been held since, helping people learn to engage in dialogue, listen, and constructively debate ideas. We are knitting together a disparate society that has lost its connections and mutual trust.
My name is Somaya. I am 20 years old. I am a university student. It was very interesting because it is the first symposium about democracy that I have ever attended. In the symposium I learned much more about democracy and its role in the development of Afghanistan. Before attending here I didn’t know all about democracy despite being a student, but now I know what democracy is and I am motivated to search about it and find good ways to build democracy in the community.