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Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

2020 Champions for Education in Afghanistan Announced

2020 Champions for Education in Afghanistan Announced

Each year CW4WAfghan recognizes one or a pair of individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the cause of education in Afghanistan. Afghan teacher Aziz Royesh and Calgarian Pat Cashion are the 2020 Champions for Education in Afghanistan.

This year, veteran Afghan educator and visionary leader Aziz Royesh is recipient of the Champion for Education in Afghanistan. A lifelong advocate of equal access to education, Aziz is the founder of the Marefat School, a community supported, grassroots education centre in Kabul, which began serving Afghan refugees in Pakistan in 1994, and has grown into one of the most successful schools in Afghanistan, with a dynamic curriculum that inculcates skills like critical thinking and civic responsibility, and currently has a student body of 2000 girls and boys, besides its literacy education school for adults. Serving children from all socio-economic backgrounds, Marefat is an innovative centre of learning, where children develop autonomy and confidence through programs that include music, an art gallery, a student governance system, and more. For his visionary educational leadership and his activism, Aziz has been a World Fellow at Yale University, a Fellow of the US National Endowment for Democracy, and a Global Teacher Prize finalist. 

“Aziz has seen with unusual clarity the link between education and peace, and realized that education plays a role – if not the pivotal role – in processes like democratic development and peacebuilding,” says Lauryn Oates, executive director of CW4WAfghan. “His success is not only the thousands of children who have graduated from Marefat, but lies in the kind of education they got at Marefat. This is a school that doesn’t just graduate students, but graduates leaders.”

CW4WAfghan’s work to make the dream of education a reality for girls and women is only possible due to the generosity of dedicated supporters in Canada, who have recognized the value of investing in the learning of women and girls globally. Emblematic of this kind of committed support is Pat Cashion, a Calgary entrepreneur, philanthropist, board leader and volunteer. Pat has contributed his time and expertise to the board leadership and other roles of Canadian non-for-profit organizations for decades, bringing his extensive expertise in building community networks, business and financial acumen to support the governance, leadership and mandate of CW4WAfghan. Pat has supported CW4WAfghan in a variety of roles, including as a board member since 2018, sitting on numerous committees, as an advisor to the Lantern Fund in 2012, a fundraising campaign that ultimately raised $2 million for teacher education in Afghanistan, and as a generous donor to the organization. A Chartered Accountant since 1976, Pat is the President and CEO of Vitreous Glass Inc, a company that recycles 80,000 tons of waste glass each year and sells it to the fiberglass insulation industry in Alberta. In giving so much to CW4WAfghan, Pat is driven by his belief that change will come only through education and leadership by women.

Says Narmin Ismail-Teja, CW4WAfghan board chair, “In providing leadership to the board Executive Committee and in chairing two committees this year, Pat has brought vigour with compassion, fun and commitment, and has contributed to strengthening the organization in a meaningful way. Plus, he is a pleasure to work with.”

These two individuals demonstrate the great impact that can come about when ideals are put into action, and optimism and effort are combined. The Champion for Education awards highlight the people doing the work of making the right to education a reality for children, particularly girls, across Afghanistan, and who are the energy behind the movement. Pat Cashion and Aziz Royesh join a list of other such laureates including Jill Leslie (2019), Madeliene Tarasick and Margaret Stewart (2018), Irene MacDonald and Deborah Alexander (2017), Louise Pascale and Linda Middaugh (2016), Murwarid Ziayee (2015), Mellissa Fung (2014), Marnie Gustavson and Lauryn Oates (2013), Ash Khan and Deborah Ellis (2012), Janice Eisenhauer and Sally Armstrong (2011). For more information, click here.

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
PO Box 86016, Marda Loop, Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2T 6B7

t: 1 (403) 244-5625

Registered Charity #887718203RR0001

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