Education as Resistance: Top Scholarships You Can Support

Expanding access to education is at the core of the Cultures of Resistance Network's vision for change. A robust education system is the cornerstone of any meaningful, participatory democracy, and providing educational opportunities to those who are otherwise excluded is a critical step towards establishing greater democratic rights for all. Particularly in contexts where power is concentrated in the hands of the few, or where war has shaken the foundations of society and government, education fosters the critical analysis and technical skills that are needed to bring about political change. Here, we highlight a few scholarship programs that are opening doors for students who ordinarily wouldn't get a shot at an education.

    Creating Education Opportunities for Pakistan's Poorest Children

    In Balochistan, one of Pakistan's poorest provinces, conflict is the norm. A long-running separatist insurgency has made violence an everyday occurrence and despite being home to vast natural resources, residents face both food and water shortages. Many children also lack access to quality education. However, our ally The Citizens Foundation (TCF) is aiming to change that. TCF operates over 1,200 schools, reaching 175,000 children in urban slums and poor rural areas, and has a strong focus on gender equality. The Cultures of Resistance Network worked with the organization to open a new primary school in Balochistan that is completely free for students. Named The TCF School - Cultures of Resistance Campus, it began providing education for children who might not otherwise have the chance to attend school in April 2017! On its website, TCF suggests many different ways that you can get involved in its work. These opportunities range from supporting a student or stocking a library to interning at its US office or volunteering in Pakistan or the US.

    Expanding Access to Education for East Timor's Most Vulnerable Youth

    In 2002, East Timor gained independence after centuries of colonization by Portugal and then Indonesia, becoming the first new sovereign state of the twenty-first century. However, many of its children still lack access to education. The Centre Quesadhip Ruak (CQR), an organization in East Timor, is aiming to help the country's most vulnerable members to be able to attend school and learn about democracy and human rights. As part of that goal, the Cultures of Resistance Network is sponsoring a CQR scholarship that gives twenty-six students the opportunity to continue from elementary school to secondary school and into higher education. Without this program, most of these students would have to leave school. Learn more about the CoR scholarship and CQR's efforts to increase access to education here.

    Empowering the Next Generation of Women Innovators in Pakistan

    From birth, girls in Pakistan face barriers to education and financial independence. Around 4.5 million Pakistani girls are barred completely from attending school—but many young women are rising up. The Dawood Global Foundation, through its platform Ladiesfund, supports girls' education through scholarships and the empowerment of women entrepreneurs through career support and business partnerships. With over 12,000 members—including award-winning filmmakers, members of the National Assembly, and other Pakistani luminaries—Ladiesfund is a powerful force in bringing women into positions of leadership in Pakistan. Most recently, Dawood and Ladiesfund supported the Educate a Girl - Mission 1000 campaign, which aimed to provide vocational media studies training to over a thousand girls. The Cultures of Resistance Network supported fifty scholarships in 2014 and another fifty in 2015. Visit Dawood or Ladiesfund online to see how you can contribute. This can include anything from getting involved with Ladiesfund's Student Advisory Board to internships and mentoring programs. Watch the video below to learn more about Educate a Girl:


    Building the Next Democratic Generation in Burma

    In the summer of 1988, the people of Burma rose up in protest against one-party rule. In response to the mobilization, government forces killed thousands of students and other demonstrators, imposed martial law, and closed the universities. Since then, higher education has been in constant crisis, and the country’s civil society has suffered for it. As human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has said, “Without an educated and qualified population, efforts to build a stable, developed society would be obstructed by insurmountable difficulties.” Two organizations have responded to this pressing problem: the Thabyay Education Network and Prospect Burma. The Thabyay Education Network (TEN) opened its doors in 1996. Along with raising funds for university scholarships across Southeast Asia, TEN helps students who have been deprived of primary and secondary education reach a point where they can take university entrance exams. TEN also connects socially-minded students to networks throughout the country that are working toward a more democratic future. Prospect Burma, which formed as a direct response to the government’s closure of universities and is supported by Suu Kyi, offers scholarships to Burmese students who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to study in universities abroad. All of their recipients are committed to returning home to use their new expertise to help rebuild civil society in Burma. Check out TEN and Prospect Burma’s websites to learn how you can accelerate the democratization of one of the world’s most isolated nations. On its Get Involved page, Prospect Burma offers opportunities that include fundraising, "adopting" a scholarship, and supporting education projects through bake sales and auctions.

    Creating New Opportunities for Young Refugees of the Iraq War

    When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Iraqi refugees began fleeing into neighboring Jordan and Syria. Meanwhile, some 4.4 million Iraqis have been internally displaced since the conflict's start. Only a small fraction of these refugees have returned home since the war officially ended in 2011. But as refugees in Jordan and Syria, Iraqi students cannot work or attend universities there. The Iraqi Student Project (ISP) is a grassroots effort to help Iraqi refugees acquire the undergraduate education they need to participate in rebuilding their country. The project places young, aspiring students displaced by the Iraq war in undergraduate degree programs in the United States. In addition to tuition waivers and scholarships from American colleges and universities, the program depends on moral and financial support from US volunteers. Check out the ISP website to make a donation, join a volunteer support group at a participating university (click here for a full list of universities), or find out the best ways to spread the word on your campus.

    Resisting Natural and Political Disasters in Haiti

    The crises facing Haiti are monumental: years after the devastating 2010 earthquake, inadequate sanitation and other urgent health issues prevail. Meanwhile, Haiti remains the poorest country in the Americas and faces enormous long-term social, economic, and political challenges. Today, many Haitian youth cannot afford to complete high school. SOPUDEP is a Haitian-run grassroots organization aiming to address this problem by providing free education to children and adults in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Pétion-Ville. Founded in the early 1990s by a group of community organizers, SOPUDEP pursues a bottom-up approach to community empowerment and education. The group initially focused its efforts on adult literacy, but soon began to develop primary education programs as well. In 2002, SOPUDEP opened its flagship K-12 school, which now has more than 750 students. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, SOPUDEP also opened a makeshift school at Camp Acra, one of the tent camps for internally displaced people, as well as technical and art workshops for residents. Moreover, SOPUDEP’s flagship school has helped its students, staff, and neighbors recover from the trauma of the earthquake by fostering a sense of community and hope for the future. Check out SOPUDEP's Facebook page to learn more and join them> in their efforts. You can help them provide essential services, such as free school lunches, a mobile clinic, and vocational training programs. If you're looking for something more hands-on, you can also visit Port-au-Prince and stay in SOPUDEP's Solidarity Guest House!

    Expanding Women's Education in Afghanistan

    Currently, Afghan women attend university at a far lower rate than their male counterparts, limiting their chances to reach positions of power and advocate on behalf of women. For this reason, Nobel Peace Prize-nominee Dr. Sima Samar founded the Gawharshad Institute of Higher Education (GIHE), whose primary aim is to provide affordable, top-notch higher education to young Afghan women. GIHE believes that "by providing positive discrimination for young Afghan female students, it can help make a significant difference in the long-term situation of women in Afghanistan." Since its establishment, Gawharshad, which is named after a fifteenth-century queen known for her contributions to the arts and sciences, has enrolled hundreds of students in its Political Science, Law, and Economics & Management departments. GIHE strives to provide an environment in which women feel comfortable to freely pursue their educational aspirations. Today, GIHE has the highest proportion of female students of any university in Afghanistan. Visit their website to learn more about their work and how you can contribute to women’s empowerment in Afghanistan.

    Rebuilding Classrooms and Futures in Somalia

    Decades of civil war and a broken central government have left 90 percent of Somalia's schools destroyed and two generations of the country's children without access to formal education. As a result, the literacy rate in Somalia is among the lowest in the world. The Somali and American Fund for Education (SAFE) is a non-profit organization that aims to help Somalians confront their country's education crisis by improving both access to and quality of education. Through partnerships with local universities and Somali communities committed to education, SAFE is rehabilitating schools destroyed in the civil war and constructing new classrooms and other desperately needed schooling facilities. Check out the organization's Facebook page to learn more about their efforts and lend your support. You can help spread the word about SAFE's programs by distributing brochures in your community or inviting a SAFE staff member to speak in your city. Meanwhile, in Mogadishu, our allies at the Turkish-based IHH Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief have opened the country's largest orphanage, which provides education to 1,500 students and housing to 400 of these students. Visit IHH's website to learn more about their programs for orphans around the world.

    Fostering Human Rights Leaders From Conflict Zones

    From 2013 to 2017, the CoR Network supported two scholar-activists from conflict-ridden countries pursuing master's degrees at SOAS, University of London each year. The program aimed to allow students who had been affected by war and occupation to return to their home countries as leaders in the fight for human rights and grassroots democracy. To see the exciting projects that some of our past scholars are working on, click here.

    Schooling for Peace in Kashmir

    For decades, Kashmir has been riven by violence, as Pakistan and India contend with local independence movements for control of the embattled region. An estimated 47,000 people have died in the conflict, including over 10,000 civilians. This history acutely affects the children of Kashmir. The Kashmir Education Initiative seeks to meet the special needs and demands of Kashmiri youth through both educational scholarships and experiential programs. The organization sponsors hundreds of scholars a year in their high school and post-secondary education. To learn how you can help, visit KEI's donation and volunteering pages. Opportunities include interning and helping to run scholarship programs, mentor students, increase outreach, and conduct research.

    Raising AIDS Awareness in South Africa

    Over two decades since the end of apartheid, black South Africans continue to be denied access to certain jobs and educational opportunities, thus blighting the nation’s democratic process. Meanwhile, in the decade leading up to 2010, over 40 percent of the deaths in South Africa were the result of HIV/AIDS, and in 2007 the UN estimated that over 11 percent of the general population was infected. In an effort to reverse these trends, Professor Robert Paul Wolff founded the University Scholarships for South African Students in 1990. The scholarship program opens the door to higher education in the country’s historically black universities, including the University of the Western Cape. In addition to pursuing a university degree, each recipient takes part in HIV/AIDs awareness and prevention programs. Since its creation, the scholarship has helped more than 1,500 black South Africans gain a university education and raise awareness about HIV/AIDs. Email Professor Wolff to learn more about how you can support young black South African leaders.

    Educating Orphans and Refugees of War in Afghanistan

    As a result of the US-led invasion and occupation of their country, tens of thousands of Afghan citizens have died, whether as casualties of military actions or through starvation and disease. Many of those killed have left behind orphaned children who must fend for themselves to maintain a home and care for their siblings. Such difficult circumstances put childhood development at serious risk, which is why the non-profit Omeid International works to provide the building blocks of a healthy life to Afghanistan's war orphans. By providing safe housing, health care, and an education to these young people, Omeid hopes to contribute to the next generation's confidence and its ability to rebuild its ravaged country.

    In addition to leaving thousands of children orphaned, the war in Afghanistan also created one of the worst refugee crises in recent decades, only recently surpassed in its urgency by the Syrian civil war. As of 2015, some 2.7 million Afghan refugees continue to live in exile, primarily in neighboring Iran and Pakistan. At the end of 2015, Pakistan was home to 1.5 million Afghan refugees. At its RUMI International School, the Khubaib Foundation provides quality education to children of the Afghan refugee camp in Haripur, Pakistan, including a basic literacy program for thousands of children and a sewing program for women. Committed to supporting Pakistan's most vulnerable people—including orphans, refugees, prisoners, widows, and the destitute poor—the Khubaib Foundation also leads projects such as the Khubaib College Haripur, which was established in 2008 with an emphasis on providing an education to orphans of the 2005 earthquake. To learn about volunteer opportunities like mentoring and organizing donation drives, click here.

    Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in the Congo

    The Association for the Support of the Oppressed (ASO) is a not-for-profit organization based in Bukavu, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo that aims to promote health, human rights, child welfare, civic education, and sociocultural values, in addition to seeking the peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict in the DRC. Given that illiteracy is a major challenge in the DRC, and especially in South Kivu, ASO's core projects focus on reading and writing classes for young people who haven't had access to formal education. Meanwhile, ASO's vocational training courses in sewing, carpentry, soap-making, and livestock farming have sought to confront youth unemployment and poverty. Please email us at campaigns [at] to learn how you can support ASO's efforts.

    Providing Education to the Children of Samburu Rape Victims

    For more than fifty years, the UK has maintained military training facilities in the Samburu region of its former colony, Kenya. Women there have faced an epidemic of sexual violence at the hands of the soldiers, and they have filed more than 600 official rape claims. Despite the overwhelming evidence, Britain’s Royal Military Police (RMP) has cleared all soldiers of wrongdoing and has quashed past efforts to seek justice for these women. Many women have been outcast from their communities due to social stigma, often harming their abilities to provide for their children. Along with ally organizations in Kenya, the CoR Network has helped to establish a primary and secondary school scholarship for the children of rape victims. Through these efforts, more than two dozen students have had the chance to attend school at the primary and secondary levels. A small donation can make a huge difference in creating opportunities for a child whose family has faced the burden of exclusion and social stigma. Please email us at campaigns [at] if you would like to contribute to this important fund.