Fostering a better education in Afghanistan
In February 2020, Ataullah, aka Ata (Afghanistan / Class of 2017) and his local community celebrated the purchase of land for the planned Safura School in Afghanistan (pictured on the right). Ata has been working on this project since his time as a student at UWC ISAK Japan. Since his high school time, Ata has been dedicated to making a change for education in his home country.
But the fall of Kabul in 2021 changed his original plans. Nevertheless, with the curriculum all prepped and the generous help of his supporters, Ata has great hopes to transform the project to adapt to the current situation.
“After high school in Afghanistan, you become lost and confused”
Ata depicts a dire situation for the Afghan education system. He describes curriculums as lacking organization and practice-based learning. “It’s difficult to enter the national university in Afghanistan,” says Ata. “And even there, the quality of education is not that great.”
To take action on this issue, Ata launched an Education Summer Camp in 2018 in Bamiyan, to great success (photo on the left). The camp was inspired by GAKKO global summer camp founded by Kenta Koga. “This experience was eye-opening,” recalls Ata. Thanks to his supporters and team, he managed to select motivated and curious students from all over Afghanistan regardless of financial difficulties. On his team, he onboarded afghan mentors studying or working abroad. The pleasant surprise for Ata was the number of girls. “I was surprised to see families agree to their daughters leaving home for four days and nights,” says Ata proudly.
Inspirations from UWC ISAK Japan education
Gender equality is an essential part of the Safura project. “Although I am from a family that respects women a lot, only at UWC ISAK Japan did I deepen my respect for people from all genders.”
“I am amazed by how much I grew at UWC ISAK Japan compared to the 10-11 years I spent in afghan schools. That is when I understood the power of education. I mean, in Afghanistan, I knew that education was good and important. But I didn’t think it could significantly change one’s life and perspective on the world. “Education at UWC ISAK Japan was so empowering. After graduation, I knew I wanted to do something to improve education in Afghanistan. When I spoke to students, mentors, and stakeholders in Afghanistan, I realized UWC ISAK Japan’s impact on me. I was such a different, more mature person,” recalls Ata.
A new life in Japan
Ata has been living in Japan for seven years now. He is currently working at the heart of Tokyo, a city he loves. After graduation he studied at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (Ritsumeikan APU) in Beppu. South of Japan. Ata now hopes to become fluent in Japanese. He takes two and a half hour lessons three times a week! “I am happy I stayed in Japan because I met amazing people,” says Ata with gratitude.
The power of not giving up on people
The list of what Japan brought to Ata is long. But at the top, we can easily find his encounter with Mr. Hiroyuki Uchida, President of Hinoki, Co. Ltd. “Mr. Uchida is the best person I have met in my life,” thinks Ata. “My goal is to become able to speak Japanese with him.”
In addition, Hinoki, Co. Ltd. has supported Ata financially and spiritually since he launched his Education Summer Camp in 2018, notably for the purchase of the land for Safura School. This long-term and generous support helped Ata realize that “if you care about something, if you care about some people, never give up on them.” As a result, Ata never gave up and surrounded himself with people who did not give up on him. Perhaps this is why he often remembers Mr. Uchida’s motto—”money follows vision.”
We wish the best to Ata in all of his endeavors. And we are excited to welcome him back on campus for UWC ISAK Japan Summer School 2022, where he will serve as a counselor!
If you are interested in this topic, you might also enjoy reading this blog post about how Merhimo (Class of 2021 / Tajikistan) built her country’s first English Summer School.