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ACCC Director Receives Honourary Degree from SAIT

June 5th, 2009 26 comments

honorary-degree

ACCC Director Ehsanullah Ehsan receives an honourary degree from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

Ehsanullah Ehsan, Director of the Afghan-Canadian Community Center, was awarded an honourary degree by the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology on June 2nd in recognition of his contribution to women’s education and human rights in Kandahar. In his acceptance speech, Ehsan delivered a moving tribute to those who had helped him to create the Afghan-Canadian Community Center:

“Through the support provided by SAIT, the Government of Canada and the Canadian people, we have given people hope for a better future. We have created what has been called ‘an oasis of decency and civility’ – a place where women and men alike can go to discuss, explore, understand and learn. The sight of beautiful Afghan girls glued to computers and books at the Centre is a symbol of the drastic social change taking root in Afghanistan. Everyone at SAIT should be very proud of what they have helped to create.

You – the great people of Canada – have shown incredible generosity in supporting my country and my educational initiatives. Individual donors and the Government of Canada have made significant contributions through the Canadian International Learning Foundation’s Afghan School Project, and through the Canadian International Development Agency. With this generous support, we are proudly moving the Afghan Canadian Community Centre – and the people of Afghanistan – toward self-sustainability and gender equality.”

ehsan-delivers-speech
Ehsanullah Ehsan delivers his acceptance speech

He also had his own words of wisdom to pass along to the SAIT graduating class of 2009:

“By receiving the knowledge imparted to you by your teachers, you have been entrusted with a sacred gift, one that few people in this world have the opportunity to receive. The importance of this knowledge cannot be over stated – it empowers men and women alike to support themselves, their families, and improve their community. Knowledge is the backbone of society, and the key to peace and prosperity.

I hope that you will use this gift to realize your dreams – and to help others realize theirs. As one of the keepers of the sacred gift of knowledge, you have a remarkable opportunity to share this gift and, by doing so, to save humanity from the threat of oppression, war and deprivation. I urge you, as citizens of the world, to use this knowledge not only to benefit yourselves, but to also create hope for those who would learn, if only given the chance.”

To view the speech in its entirety, please click here.

Ehsan also collected certificates on behalf of the ACCC students studying at SAIT, who were unable to make the trip to Canada for security reasons. Ehsan has since returned to Kandahar, and will soon be holding a ceremony to present the first cohort of SAIT students with their academic certificates.

Ehsan’s visit to Calgary was covered by numerous media outlets, including Global National, the Toronto Star, CBC, the Calgary Sun, the Calgary Herald, Canada AM, and the Winnipeg Free Press.

The Afghan School Project would like to thank everyone at SAIT, CIDA, and the Government of Canada who made his visit possible. To help us offer life-changing education to a greater number of women in Kandahar, please Donate.

SAIT Polytechnic Welcomes Director of Afghan-Canadian Community Center to Calgary

June 1st, 2009 9 comments

First-of-its-kind project provides Afghan women with online access to SAIT education

June 1, 2009, Calgary, Alberta — Calgary, Alberta may be a long way from his home in Afghanistan, but Ehsanullah Ehsan will be at SAIT Polytechnic’s June 1st and 2nd graduation ceremonies to represent 12 female Afghan graduands unable to make the trek due to safety concerns.

Ehsan’s journey began with a vision to provide women in Afghanistan with something they never thought possible – an education. “We need to make every effort possible to ensure humanity has access to justice, education, love, freedom and prosperity,” said Ehsan, Director for the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre. “We should speak out and do what is required to ensure that men, women, boys and girls have free and open access to education. This should be done not only out of personal interest, but for the shared interests of humanity as a whole.”

Part of Ehsan’s vision became a reality through the Afghan School Project and online distance courses SAIT provides to females in Afghanistan who have had the courage to seek education while living in a country infamous for oppression of women.

“The courses these students studied were selected to provide the skills and knowledge that are in the greatest demand for the reconstruction and development of the Kandahar area,” says Gord Nixon, SAIT’s Vice President Academic. “The Afghan women will each receive the Business Management certificate for completing courses in project management, organizational behaviour, financial accounting, leadership development, human resource management and financial management.”

In 2007, the Afghan School Project, with the help of SAIT and financial donors, opened the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre in Kandahar with just two volunteers and 100 students, including the 12 women taking SAIT’s online program. Despite persecutions, threats, political turmoil, and an ultra-conservative culture that discourages educational opportunities for women, the school, which offers courses in business management, computing, health care and English as a Second Language, has grown to service more than 700 students. The Afghan-Canadian Community Centre is the only school in its area that offers vocational training for women.

“The Russians left for us arms and dumps of ammunition from which we have been suffering for decades. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban left for us the culture of extremism, terrorism, narrow-mindedness and suicides. But you – the great, the peaceful, the most generous Canadians – are leaving us with enlightenment,” says Ehsan.

About SAIT

SAIT Polytechnic has maintained close association with business and industry to ensure graduate success since 1916. SAIT offers 67 certificate, diploma, and applied degree programs as well as 33 apprenticeship programs, 300 distance education courses and 1,800 continuing education and corporate training courses. SAIT has delivered training in 30 countries around the world and has 79,000 course and program registrations each year. SAIT is a proud member of Polytechnics Canada.

Canada eSchool to sponsor courses for ACCC students

January 28th, 2009 2 comments

Canada eSchool has generously agreed to sponsor eight online courses for students at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC). The courses will include subjects such as English, Science, Health, Math, and Civics, and are accredited by the Ministry of Education in Ontario, Canada. Not only will the eSchool’s classes provide valuable education for ACCC students, they are also accepted by Universities and Colleges in Canada and around the world.

The courses offered by eSchool are very flexible, offer continuous enrolment, and can be accessed from anywhere at any time, making them ideal for students on the other side for the world. Programs such as this make it possible for students in Kandahar to get access to education that they would otherwise be unable to receive. This kind of education enables students to obtain valuable jobs with local and international employers and allows them to give back to their community.

Canada eSchool has also agreed to provide further courses to ACCC students at significantly discounted rates. The Afghan School Project is proud to partner with the ACCC to sponsor students in Kandahar for this unique opportunity. To help, please visit our Donate page.

Together with their affiliate school, Canada eSchool is one of Canada’s largest private online learning programs for international secondary students, and provides courses which are accepted by Universities and Colleges in Canada and around the world. The initial group of ACCC students is expected to begin their classes by mid-February.

Canadian PRT Donates More Than 700 Books to ACCC

December 2nd, 2008 No comments

From February to November 2008, the Canadian Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) donated more than 700 books to the growing library of the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC). The books were generously provided by Canadian citizens and cover a wide range of subjects and genres, from math and science textbooks to short stories and novels. These books will be kept in the school’s library, and will be accessible to all 700 women and men studying at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center.

The library and the other facilities used by the Afghan-Canadian Community Center are funded through a grant provided by the Government of Canada and administered by the Canadian International Development Agency, and through private donations to the Afghan School Project. These books provide an invaluable link to our shared knowledge of the world, and are greatly appreciated by our students. I hope you will join me in expressing our sincere thanks for this precious gift from generous Canadians.


ACCC Director Ehsan Ullah and students eagerly look through the books provided by the Canadian PRT

Personal Reflections of Ali Raza: The World is in Our Hands…

October 15th, 2008 6 comments

 

 

 I would like to thank Ali Raza for creating this wonderful picture, and for his expression of hope for the future. We are proud to work hand-in-hand with the people of Afghanistan to build a better future for us all. The courage and dedication of the students and staff of the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC) is an inspiration to people around the world who seek to create a better life through the light of education.

Best Regards,

Ryan
Director
The Afghan School Project

Ottawa Charity Auction Raises More Than $3,200 for ACCC

October 6th, 2008 No comments

Ottawa residents and businesses joined together at Lago Bar | Grill | View on the evening of Saturday, September 20th to help raise more than $3,200 for the Afghan-Canadian Community Center.

The auction was organized by Conor, Oliver and other volunteer members of the Afghan School Project. Close to 100 guests took part in spirited bidding on a wide range of auction items. More than 30 donations were generously provided by businesses and individuals in Ottawa, from restaurant gift certificates and event tickets to a designer jacket provided by Ottawa fashion designer Paddye Mann.

“The auction accomplished exactly what we had hoped,” said Oliver, “The funds we raised will have a significant impact at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center. This was also an important step in establishing the Afghan School Project in the community and raising awareness for this worthy cause.”

The event was attended by Afghan Ambassador Omar Samad and representatives of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). In his speech, the Ambassador emphasized the importance of organizations like the Afghan School Project and the Afghan-Canadian Community Center in promoting long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The original goal of the auction was to raise $2,500, enough for 20 students to attend the Afghan-Canadian Community Center for a full year. By exceeding that goal by more than $700, the school will be able to provide a further six students with valuable education in business management, Information Technology, English and health care.

“The courses provided by the Afghan-Canadian Community Center have helped many of our students secure high-paying employment with a wide range of organizations, many of which participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan,” said Ryan, Director of the Afghan School Project, “The salaries earned by these students are enough to support their extended families, and have helped improve the quality of life for thousands in Kandahar.”

The Afghan School Project intends to make the charity auction an annual event, and will be organizing additional events over the coming year. Photos will be published as they are available.

Afghan-Canadian Community Center Moves to Larger Facility

July 2nd, 2008 No comments

In late June 2008, the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC) moved to a larger facility better able to handle the school’s growing student population. The new facility has a total of 15 rooms, including classrooms, offices, a media room, and a library with over 600 books. The ACCC currently operates more than 50 computers, almost half of which are Internet-enabled, as well as two large generators that ensure a continuous supply of electricity.

The new facilities can host upwards of 300 students at any given time. By operating five classes per day, the ACCC can provide education to approximately 1,500 students over the course of a single day. The facilities further provide students with access to kitchen facilities, a canteen, parking and a large yard, where students play sports such as badminton and tennis. The new facilities are in a more secure area, more conveniently located to a large number of international organizations, many of whom employ ACCC students and graduates.

The ACCC currently provides courses in business management, Information Technology and English to approximately 700 students, and has enabled more than 100 students and graduates to earn high-paying employment and promotions with international development organizations and local businesses. The cost of the new facility is funded through a capacity-building grant provided by the Government of Canada and administered by the Canadian International Development Agency, and by private donations made through the Afghan School Project.

Government of Canada to provide more than $60,000 in funding to the ACCC for capacity building project

May 20th, 2008 No comments

The Government of Canada has agreed to provide the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC) with more than $60,000 in funding to establish the Kandahar Capacity Building program, to begin on May 1st 2008 and continue until May 30th 2009.

The capacity-building program will enable the ACCC to hire additional teachers and improve our facilities, thereby allowing us to significantly increase the number of male and female students enrolled in business management, Information Technology, health care and English courses. Students will be selected from local and international non-government organizations, the Afghan government and the Kandahar community. The long-term goal of the program is to help the ACCC become a self-sufficient, not-for-profit educational institution capable of providing job-oriented education to the people of Kandahar for years to come.

The Government of Canada’s generous grant, offered under the Kandahar Local Initiatives Program via the Canadian International Development Agency, will be combined with funding from the Cadmus Foundation, the Afghan School Project and fees paid by individual ACCC students to support a yearly budget of approximately $110,000. As part of the new program, the Afghan School Project is launching a campaign to raise a further $25,000 towards the cost of operating the school. By donating to this project online or by cheque, you can play an important role in making our new program a success and give the gift of hope and opportunity to students in Kandahar.

I hope that you will join me in thanking the Government of Canada for its generous support of the ACCC and our students. I have every confidence that the dedicated teachers and students of the ACCC will prove there’s no better investment in the future of Afghanistan than the precious gift of education.

Note: This post has been revised to reflect our current fundraising goal of $25,000, instead of the original figure of $10,000.