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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.”

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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.

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

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.