Educating a New Afghanistan: Advocacy in Action

November 19, 2010

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Sadiqa Basiri Saleem, cofounder of the Oruj Learning Center and a 2010 Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellow, discusses the current state of education in Afghanistan and the needs and challenges in Afghan education. The Oruj Learning Center provides educational, social, and advocacy services for thousands of Afghan women and girls. Raised in refugee camps in Pakistan after fleeing Taliban rule in her home province, Saleem is a powerful advocate for change in Afghanistan and is eager to share her insights and experience with a Chicago audience.

Sadiqa Basiri Saleem cofounded the Oruj Learning Center in 2002. Oruj has since established six girls’ schools in the rural Wardak and Nangarhar provinces and opened the first Afghan community college for women. Since July 2009, Saleem has also served as a professional development centers manager for the USAID-funded Academy for Educational Development’s Higher Education Project in Afghanistan while continuing her work with Oruj. Saleem previously served as director of external affairs and deputy director of the Afghan Women’s Network, where she represented the interests of Afghan women in national and international policy forums. Saleem has received several distinguished awards, including the Vital Voices’ Rising Voices Award, the Samuel Huntington Public Service Award, and, most recently, the Diane Von Furstenberg Award. Her work has been recognized by Newsweek, the BBC, NBC, and National Public Radio, among other outlets. She earned her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College in 2009.

The Chicago Council’s Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship is funded by the Koldyke family to recognize a social entrepreneur who is working to transform his or her society through innovative solutions to pressing educational problems. This year, the selection committee focused on primary and secondary education in Afghanistan.



Recorded Thursday, November 18, 2010 at the Hilton Chicago.