Norwich University’s Peace and War Center Presents Founder of Afghanistan’s Only Girls Boarding School


Feb. 13, 2018

Norwich University’s Peace and War Center presents “Opportunities and challenges of establishing Afghanistan’s first and only all-girls boarding school” a presentation by Shabana Basij-Rasikh, School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) President & Co-Founder on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 12-1 p.m. in the Kreitzberg Library Todd Multipurpose Room.

This event is free and open to the public. For background, Basij-Rasikh’s TED talk about pursuing education under Taliban rule is available here.

Afghanistan has been embroiled in war for decades now, which has had a significant impact the life of women in the country, especially their education. Currently, only one in four girls receive a secondary education, which is due to the tremendous obstacles they face to attend school. The School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) is trying to address this by establishing the first and only all-girls boarding school in the country. Their mission is to provide Afghan girls a rigorous education that promotes critical thinking, a sense of purpose, and respect for self and others.

Since its establishment in 2008, SOLA students have represented 23 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, they have sent more than 45 students to colleges and universities abroad, who have received more than 194 years’ worth of scholarships, valued at $9.4 million. Shabana Basij-Rasikh will tell the story of founding Afghanistan’s first and only all-girls boarding school and how she believes it is the key to establishing a peaceful, united and prosperous Afghanistan.

Born and raised in Kabul, Basij-Rasikh finished high school in the U.S. through the State Department’s Youth Exchange Studies program. She went on to attend Middlebury College in Vermont, graduating magna cum laude in International Studies and Women & Gender Studies in 2011. In 2016, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from SOAS University of London.

While at Middlebury, Basij-Rasikh was awarded a Davis Peace Prize—with which she built wells in the outskirts of Kabul—and was selected as one of Glamour Magazine’s Top 10 College Women of 2010. She also received the Vermont Campus Compact 2011 Madeleine Kunin Public Service Award for outstanding leadership and service to others.

While still in college, Basij-Rasikh co-founded SOLA—School of Leadership, Afghanistan, a nonprofit dedicated to giving young Afghans access to quality education abroad and jobs back home. After graduating from Middlebury, she returned to Kabul to turn SOLA into the nation’s first boarding school for girls. SOLA provides college preparatory courses to students aged 11-19 representing all major ethnic groups, religious sects, and tribes. It also helps graduates enter universities worldwide and return to substantive careers in Afghanistan, where they often become the first women to enter their fields.

During this period, Basij-Rasikh served as the National Gender Mainstreaming Advisor at the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development’s National Solidarity Program in Kabul, but left the position in 2012 to focus on SOLA full time. In addition to leading SOLA, Shabana’s advocacy work on the importance of educating girls takes her around the world. She is a global ambassador for Girl Rising, a call to action seeking investment in girls’ education worldwide. In recognition for her work, Basij-Rasikh was named one of National Geographic’s 2014 Emerging Explorers, and one of CNN International’s Leading Women of 2014.

About Norwich University˜

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) 

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