Azizullah "Aziz" Royesh is a leading advocate for equal access to primary and secondary education and Founder of Marefat High School for Afghan refugees in Pakistan. With a focus on critical thinking and human rights, the school flourished and eventually moved to Afghanistan in 2002, where it now teaches more than 3500 Afghan students, about half of whom are girls. Marefat High School has become a highly respected and well-known model for a new approach to community-building in Afghanistan.
Aziz has written textbooks on humanism, human rights, democracy, social studies, and Quranic interpretation and is a frequent speaker on the concept of a tolerant community. Aziz and his colleagues established the Marefat Civil Capacity Building Organization (MCCBO) which is working to strengthen and expand democracy and civil norms of life. It was recognized as the "Best Private School of 2014 and 2016" by Afghanistan's Ministry of Education.
Aziz Royesh is a man whose life has been defined by one over-arching ambition: He says he simply wants to be a teacher. At 46, he has achieved that goal in one of the most difficult and dangerous environments in the world — Afghanistan. He has also founded a school that is now winning international acclaim as a model for education in that war-battered nation.
Aziz Royesh strolls the corridors of his school, gently chiding students about why they’re not in class as the bell rings. He seems to know each of them by name—asking one student how her exam went and another about university. He is guiding a visitor through the halls, sticking his head into various classrooms, asking his teachers if they can give up a few minutes to talk to a Western journalist.