A Triumph In Afghanistan As The American University In Kabul Reopens


Publish Date:
April 5, 2017
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We are used to seeing bad news from Afghanistan. Last month, for instance, a horrific attack on a hospital in Kabul was ostensibly carried out by the Islamic State in Afghanistan, a newish militant group combining splinter elements of the Afghan Taliban and Uzbek and Pakistani jihadis and embracing the Islamic State in the Middle East.

But sometimes out of tragedy comes triumph, and so it is with the American University of Afghanistan. AUAF, as it is known, is a private university in Kabul, sustained by American and Afghan funding. It adheres to U.S. academic standards, accepts students on a pure merit basis from all over Afghanistan, and manages to find scholarships for many. We have repeatedly visited the campus over many years, and the intelligence and spirit of the Afghan students has always left us inspired that Afghanistan can have a future better than its past.

AUAF was founded in 2006 with a mission to provide world-class higher education that prepares the future leaders of Afghanistan and the region. It is Afghanistan’s only independent, private, not-for-profit, non-sectarian, co-educational university. In 2006, it had just 53 students, of which only one was a female. Over the past week, AUAF welcomed over 730 students at its campus, a higher number than in fall of 2016 right before the attacks. Out of 77 new students, one of the school’s largest spring enrollments ever, 44 percent are women. AUAF offers the country’s first MBA program, and a law program in partnership with Stanford University, and its graduates often go on to attain postgraduate degrees around the world (including via Fulbright scholarships). It also contains the International Center for Women’s Economic Development, which seeks to implement projects geared toward empowering women in the economic sphere and to inform policymakers about the importance of women empowerment. The center houses the Business Innovation Hub, Afghanistan’s first and most successful business incubator.

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