“Firoz” means turquoise, a precious gem found in almost every corner of Afghanistan. With its brilliance mirroring the colors of the clear skies above the Hindukush Mountains, Firoz signifies prosperity. Its essence is that of strength and brightness. Under those skies lies the country of Afghanistan, a land of abundant beauty, youth, and energy. Most stories about Afghanistan conclude that young Afghans lack opportunities for education and economic development. This is where our story begins.
Firoz Academy’s model begins with an unwavering confidence in every young Afghan’s talent, perseverance, and vision for peace. For us, each Afghan youth is Firoz — bright, strong, and valuable. All these students need is a chance, an opportunity. For many of today’s brightest young Afghans, each passing day denies them the education, mentorship, and economic opportunity. Firoz aims to change this reality, by offering a beacon of hope for those Afghans.
Firoz’s mission is to provide world-class, after-school instruction in math, English, and computer skills. The practical skills we teach pave pathways for our students to participate in, benefit from, and contribute to the ever-growing global services market—right from their homes—as call-center workers, tech entrepreneurs, or government officials. We are fortunate to live in a time where being from a land-locked country does not need to mean a lack of opportunities. For Afghanistan, technology can not only become the leading source of income for the homes of thousands of Afghans, but it can also, in fact, shape society as a whole. Here are three ways of how we work to build a better Afghanistan:
We provide access to practical, high-quality instruction in math, science and technology to both men and women in Afghanistan. We envision building a society with equal opportunities in a country where it’s often not feasible and even discouraged for women to work outside the home. Our long-term vision is that educating both men and women will decrease the gender gap in education and economic opportunities.
In the past decade, Afghanistan has suffered from a loss of talented young Afghans to neighboring or European countries. While the reasons are complex and multifold, one leading factor has been a lack of education and economic opportunities in the country. Firoz aims to bring both world-class education as well as high-paying jobs to the homes of Afghans. In this way, Firoz plans to provide opportunities for Afghans who are living in Afghanistan and directly contributing to the country’s prosperity.
While Afghanistan has been the recipient of global aid for over a decade, recent global socio-political changes have halted many avenues of aid for education in the country. Foreign aid for education is planned to decrease even more significantly in the near future. We therefore need well-crafted, for-profit and socially responsible business models to efficiently take the place of foreign aid. Firoz aims to lead this movement forward to a more self-sufficient, more prosperous Afghanistan.
One of the biggest deficits in the Afghan education system is the gap between what you need to know to graduate from high school and what you need to know to hold a stable, high-paying services industry or government job. Our courses are specifically designed to fill this critical gap. And here’s how:
We offer the brightest, most ambitious young Afghans an opportunity to develop the skills they need to succeed in today’s world. We provide the highest quality education for young Afghans who will contribute to the economic development of their country.
John Calhoun is a graduate of Yale Law School, a Fulbright Scholar, and a Marshall Scholar. He is an international education policy expert with extensive experience designing education programming across the world. He founded a network of after-school programs in NYC, has advised public education systems in three US states and four countries, and has consulted on education issues for a number of US political campaigns. He is an associate at Choate Hall & Stewart LPP.
Wazhma Sadat holds a B.A. in Global Affairs from Yale and is a 2019 J.D. candidate at Yale Law School. She has worked on economic and education development in Afghanistan. An Afghan native, Wazhma is interested in ed-tech development of post-war countries, with the long-term goal of advocating for the equal right to education for both men and women around the world.
Kunal Lunawat holds a B.A. in Economics from Yale and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Kunal worked at a real estate private equity desk of The Blackstone Group. Besides insurance tech and fin-tech, he's interested in mentoring, increasing access to education and foreign policy. He is also the founder of Zensure: a company looking to sell term life insurance through mobile using spare change.
Rahma Ahmed holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Yale and an M.P.A. from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She has worked in the private sector as a securities analyst at Ernst & Young’s Complex Securities Valuation team, and in the non-profit sector in various research-oriented roles at UNICEF, UNESCWA and Kiron Open Higher Education. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in the political economy of development.
Tiara is in her fourth year at Harvard Medical School and will begin residency in internal medicine in summer 2017. She is interested in primary care for underserved populations, women’s reproductive health, and patient-centered health education. She studies reproductive health education for adolescent women in Afghanistan and other Muslim-majority, resource-limited settings.
Usman Qadri is a junior at Yale College and is double majoring in Computer Science and Modern Middle East Studies. He is interested in going into the tech industry, but also holds a deep interest in history and languages, those particular to the Middle East and South Asia. In his spare time, Usman likes to work on his Urducademy—an online tool that teaches Urdu.
Sheila is a sophomore at Yale College studying Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She is interested in how research and policy translate into practice in education. She is the Director of Curriculum and Research for the Teaching Peace Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to solving problems of bullying and school violence via peer-to-peer peace curricula.
Yasamin Sharifi is a sophomore at Yale College, pursuing an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies. She has experience in a number of educational settings with groups of students from differing backgrounds, and is interested in the right to education as a force for sustainable socioeconomic development.
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