Grantee Spotlight: Azizullah Royesh Top-10 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize

Azizullah Royesh, former NED Reagan-Fascell fellow and current NED grantee in Afghanistan, is one of 10 finalists for the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize. The prize is an annual $1 million award given to an innovative and exemplary teacher who has inspired their students and communities.

Royesh became a teacher to instill a sense of hope and purpose for Afghan children who were struggling with poverty, war, and life in refugee camps. When he was 10, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan forced his family to flee to Pakistan. While in Pakistan, he could not keep up his education, so he used any spare time that he had to teach himself. Even though he has only five years of formal education, he has become an inspiring example for education in Afghanistan and around the world.

Royesh established the Marefat (which translates to “insight” and “knowledge”) School for Afghan Refugees in Pakistan in 1994. When the Taliban regime fell in 2001, Royesh moved the school to Kabul, Afghanistan. As of 2014, the school had 4,000 students, of which 44% were girls. NED has been supporting Royesh and Marefat initiatives since 2012.

If awarded the prize, Royesh will use the funds to renovate and expand the Marefat School. He will also launch a professional teacher training academy so that Marefat’s education model can be expanded and applied throughout the country.

Learn more about Royesh and the Marefat School here: