Azizullah Royesh, an Afghan educator, has been named one of the top 10 finalists worldwide out of 5,000 nominees for prestigious Global Teacher Prize of Varkey Foundation.
The award will be presented by the former U.S. president Bill Clinton on March 16 at Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.
The one-million dollar award is a prize given each year by the foundation to a very special teacher, from around the world, who has made an extraordinary impact on their students and community.
Royesh, who is the founder of Marefat High School of Kabul, is leading a school which had about 4,000 students in 2011, 44 percent of which were girls.
He has been teaching both boys and girls with new educational system and methods, leading a number of students get scholarships abroad for higher studies.
"I think you cannot change the perspective regarding girls' education," Royesh said who is widely known for his efforts for girls' education. "Boys follow their father's principles but they are girls who can bring changes."
He insisted that Afghanistan has now become a safe place for everyone, but acknowledged still many challenges were ahead of the country.
"I think we have come a long way as Afghanistan has improved a lot since the fall of Taliban regime."
His students also praised his efforts for an educated society, saying Royesh was a role model for all Afghan educators.
"I believe he is the one who helped me choose my way," a student said, urging that Afghanistan needed such personalities to defeat war by education.
"The important thing we learned from Royesh is hope," another student of Marefat School said. "He has taught us to not give up hope at any situation."
Royesh first established Marefat School in Pakistan after fleeing the Taliban in 1994, which he moved back to Kabul in 2001.
"If awarded the Prize, Azizullah would use the funds to renovate and expand his school. He also aims to launch a professional teacher training academy so that Marefat's model of education can be applied throughout the country," the foundation said in its website.
The nine other finalists include three educators from U.S. and six others from India, Haiti, Cambodia, UK, Kenya and Malaysia.