With great anticipation we welcomed Shabana Basij-Rasikh to our TILE Network speaker series. Shabana is the co-founder and president of the only boarding school for girls in Afghanistan, the School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA). In her inspirational talk, she made a strong case for the importance of education for a country and specifically the key of having educated women in a country.

Shabana shared her own educational journey – which started with attending a secret school – and demonstrated how her own journey reflects on and motivates her current work to initiate educational progress for girls in Afghanistan. She outlined the reasons of why the approach of a boarding school is the only way forward to encourage high quality education for girls in Afghanistan and described what the pupils are accomplishing.

The stories that Shabana shared with us provoked a deep reflection about the priviledge of having education available for all – independent of where you live (e.g., rural areas), your gender, or your race.

I truly think that everyone teaching or learning in a Western country should listen to this talk. It puts things into perspective and sheds a new light on the value of education – not only for the individual, but for an entire country.

Together with my colleagues in Psychology, I wish all girls at SOLA good luck with their education. Keep up the hard work and we cannot wait to see your accomplishments in the future.

Take care.



You’ve read the headlines from Afghanistan, you know the stories…now, come listen to the story you haven’t heard: the story of SOLA – the School of Leadership, Afghanistan – and of the Afghan girls defying the odds to receive their educations. SOLA is Afghanistan’s first and only boarding school for girls, and we will be joined by SOLA’s co-founder, Shabana Basij-Rasikh. Shabana will bring powerful tales from campus, and will demonstrate how SOLA’s model, effective in Afghanistan, is replicable in any culture or community where girls must struggle for the right to be educated.


About the speaker:

Shabana Basij-Rasikh is the co-founder and president of the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA). SOLA is the first and only private boarding school for girls in Afghanistan, enrolling about 80 students in grades 6-10.
Born in Kabul, Shabana’s childhood was spent under the Taliban regime at a time when girls’ education was outlawed. She studied in secret until the fall of the Taliban in 2001; her experiences motivate her certainty that investing in girls’ education is a nation’s path to a prosperous future.
Shabana is a magna cum laude graduate of Middlebury College in the USA and holds a Master in Public Policy from Oxford University. She is a global ambassador for Girl Rising, a worldwide campaign for girls’ education, and in 2018 she was awarded one of Afghanistan’s highest civilian honors for her work with SOLA. In 2019, Forbes named her to their 30 Under 30 Asia list as a social entrepreneur. You can follow her and SOLA on Twitter: @sbasijrasikh and @SOLAafghanistan