Science teacher training program, Badakhshan, Afghanistan. 

College Entrance Exam Poses Steep Obstacles to Afghan Students

December 21, 2016


Every year in Afghanistan, over 150,000 high-school students across all 34 provinces take a nationwide tertiary entrance exam, known as the Kankor, required for entrance to all public universities. Based on exam marks, the Ministry of Higher Education then recommends successful candidates to particular universities. However, only about 30 percent p… Read more

Cambodian migrant worker in Thailand 

Cross-Border Labor Migration Surges in Cambodia, Raising Risk of Human Trafficking

December 14, 2016


On Monday, Cambodia celebrated a National Day Against Human Trafficking, drawing attention not only to the challenges the country faces, but also to the strides that it has made in combatting trafficking. Last year, Cambodia implemented the first national action plan against trafficking and in June, the U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in… Read more

Afghanistan students 

Education a ‘Beacon of Hope’ in Afghanistan

December 7, 2016


Education in Afghanistan has historically mirrored the ups and downs of the socio-political upheavals in the country. However, the Afghan people’s demand for quality education, their efforts to ensure greater access, and their belief in education as a transformative force has been unwavering, and is especially true today. In 2015, over 9.2 million… Read more

Aflateen program participants share business ideas during a training session. 

Building an Economic Foundation for Girls in Southern Thailand

October 5, 2016


The High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, created by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in January 2016, convened alongside the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month where it released its first-ever report. The panel was created to place women’s economic empowerment at the top of the global agenda and the 2030 Agenda for… Read more

Cambodian students in the school library during a weekly reading session. 

5 Lessons on How to Build a Digital Library Program

September 6, 2016


Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day and a half century later there’s much to celebrate. However, one of the persistent problems faced by schools in developing countries still today is a lack of one of the most essential ingredients to encourage reading: engaging children’s books to build literacy from an early age. In… Read more

Students in the Philippines 

Despite Opposition, K-12 Education Reform Moves Forward in the Philippines

August 24, 2016


By August, 1.5 million students across the Philippines attended 11th grade for the first time, thanks to the newly established senior high school (SHS), a cornerstone of the country’s long-running K-12 education reform efforts. The education reform debate leading up to this moment had been centered on whether or not to defer implementation of the K… Read more


Where Are India’s Working Women?

March 9, 2016


India is one of the youngest countries in the world, with a significant segment of its 1.2 billion population in the age group of 20-35. By 2020, it is estimated that the average age in the country will be 29. For an economy that is growing at an annual rate of 7 percent…


Photo Blog: Building Digital Libraries in Mongolia

February 10, 2016


Since the end of the socialist regime in the early 1990s, urban migration in Mongolia has continued to play an outsized role in the country’s evolving economic and social identity. With 45 percent of Mongolia’s traditionally nomadic population now living in Ulaanbaatar, public resources, especially those for schools and education, have been stretch… Read more


Survey Reveals Mixed Results for Women’s Gains in Afghanistan

November 18, 2015


Earlier this month, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi was awarded the prestigious WISE prize for her work to improve Afghan girls’ access to quality education. Since the 1990s, Dr. Yacoobi has worked tirelessly to advance equal access to education through underground home schools for girls…


Int’l Day of the Girl Child: Celebrating the Power of Girls in Vietnam and Across Asia

October 7, 2015


On October 11, global communities will mark the International Day of the Girl Child to celebrate girls’ rights and to recognize the achievements and shortcomings since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals…


A Village of E-books

September 9, 2015


The village of Tanou lies in a quiet corner of Cambodia, about 13 kilometers down a dusty road off National Highway 1 as you head towards the Mekong Delta from Phnom Penh. Trees provide a canopy of shade for most of the way to the village, beating back the blazing sun and screening the vast, partially flooded rice paddies that stretch to the horizon on either side.


Lotus Circle Advisor Janet Montag: “Give Girls a Voice and the Tools to Change Their Lives.”

June 3, 2015


This week in New York City, The Asia Foundation’s fifth annual Lotus Leadership Awards honored two acclaimed women leaders – women’s rights advocate Ranjana Kumari, director of India’s Centre for Social Research, and Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and author Sheryl WuDunn. In anticipation of the awards gala, In Asia spoke with Lotus Circle Advisor Janet Montag, a philanthropist and community leader widely traveled in Asia and a former trustee of the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh. We asked her what she thinks are the greatest challenges facing women in Asia today.

The Estée Lauder Companies and The Asia Foundation 

Inspired by Father’s Wartime Experience, Meredith Ludlow and Marc Teillon Give Generously to Educate Young Women in Vietnam

June 3, 2015


A decade ago, Meredith Ludlow and her husband, Marc Teillon, journeyed to the coastal region of Núi Thành District, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, to the village of Chu Lai. Ludlow, a Lotus Circle advisor and member of The Asia Foundation’s President’s Leadership Council, was visiting the place where her father…

Tertiary Scholarship Program, Thmor Da Village 

Educating Young Women in Rural Cambodia

May 20, 2015


The women of Cambodia have made progress in education. From 2004 to 2012, the proportion of women to men in higher education grew from 29 to 38 percent. Yet, as these numbers also show, gender disparity in education persists in Cambodia


American Foreign Policy and American Education

May 13, 2015


Two reports with ungainly titles and ostensibly nothing to do with each other were released by U.S. federal agencies last month. Together, these two reports should provoke a moment of reflection by anyone interested in the future of U.S. foreign policy.


Post-2015 Development Agenda Needs Standalone Goal on Gender Equality

March 4, 2015


It has been more than a century since the world first celebrated March 8 as International Women’s Day. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women when representatives from 189 governments signed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action…


The Need for Evidence-Based Narratives Around Afghanistan’s Youth

November 19, 2014


Earlier this year, the U.S. Congress reduced its development assistance to Afghanistan by half. This still leaves over a billion U.S. dollars. Indeed, since 2001, the country’s economy has relied heavily on foreign aid, including its nascent institutions which now face a number of challenges: to do more with less money, battle the resilient insurgency, and create employment opportunities…


Former Korea Country Representative David Steinberg Reflects on A Nation in Transition

November 12, 2014


The Asia Foundation marked its 60th anniversary with a special day-long event and gala on November 6 in Seoul, Korea, hosted by former Foreign Minister Han Sung-Joo…

The Asia Foundation, Cambodia, August 2010 

Poll Shows Fighting Corruption Drives Support for Education Reform in Cambodia

October 15, 2014


Earlier this week, Cambodia’s Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MoEYS) held a second high school exam to provide a second chance for the over 70 percent of 93,000 high school students who failed to pass the first annual national high school exam, held in early August. The passing rate in the first exam…


A Conversation with UN Human Development Report Author Khalid Malik

October 8, 2014


Khalid Malik, lead author of the UNDP Human Development Report, sat down with The Asia Foundation’s Global Communications assistant director, Eelynn Sim, on a recent visit to the Foundation’s headquarters in San Francisco and on the heels of the release of the 2014 report.


A Conversation with World Learning CEO, Development Expert, & Trustee Donald Steinberg

September 10, 2014


In Asia editor Alma Freeman sat down last month with The Asia Foundation’s new trustee, Donald Steinberg, president and CEO of World Learning, and former deputy administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, White House Deputy Press Secretary, and U.S. ambassador to Angola.


Providing Children’s Books to A Stable but Fragile Tacloban

July 23, 2014


Last week, Typhoon Rammasun (Glenda in the Philippines) swept through the Philippines, killing nearly 100 people and continued on its deadly path battering China and northern Vietnam. Just 24 hours after Glenda hit the Philippines, I visited Tacloban…


Conversation with Burmese Publisher, Library Advocate U Thant Thaw Kaung

July 9, 2014


Publisher U Thant Thaw Kaung, head of the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation and the mobile library project under the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, recently visited The Asia Foundation’s headquarters in San Francisco as part of a three-week study tour…


Bangladesh’s Development Surprise: A Model for Developing Countries

June 25, 2014


By many metrics, Bangladesh’s development trajectory is a unique success story, especially since the 1990s when democratic rule was reinstated and extensive economic reforms were made. Poverty incidence has fallen from 60 percent to around 30 percent.


Fellow Marcia Czarina Corazon Medina-Guce on Reform in the Philippines

June 25, 2014


In Asia editor Alma Freeman recently interviewed Philippine local governance leader Marcia Czarina Corazon Medina-Guce on President Aquino’s ambitious reform agenda and progress on poverty reduction and inclusive development.

On June 6, 2013, The Asia Foundation and The Lotus Circle, a community of individuals working with The Asia Foundation to empower women and girls in Asia, honored Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mr. Chong-Moon Lee at the third annual Lotus Leadership Awards i 

A Discussion with Lotus Circle Advisor Winnie Feng

June 18, 2014


Today, The Asia Foundation holds its fourth annual Lotus Leadership Awards in New York City, honoring the work of Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and Indonesian NGO leader, Nani Zulminarni. In Asia interviewed Lotus Circle Co-Chair Winnie Feng just ahead of the event for her reflections on her most memorable Lotus Circle projects, her passion for education…


Photo Blog: Improving Access to Information on Waste Management in Mongolia

April 30, 2014


More than half of the 1.2 million residents of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, live in the city’s sprawling ger areas, and the majority of residents lack access to basic public services such as water, sewage systems, electricity, and safe waste disposal, and educational resources including libraries.


Picturing: The Promise of Libraries in Myanmar

April 2, 2014


Libraries and reading have a special place in Myanmar society. Yangon, the country’s largest city, is teeming with book vendors and libraries. The American Center and British Council libraries were venerated sources of up-to-date publications…


Asia Foundation Launches New Series on Subnational Governance in Myanmar

March 12, 2014


The Asia Foundation just released the first volume of a new discussion paper series that identifies subnational governance issues in Myanmar and how they inform policy and reform processes. Working together with the Myanmar Development Resource Institute’s Centre for Economic and Social Development, this first paper examines decentralization within… Read more

Curator Kong Vireak at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco 

In Cambodia, Culture Shapes Identity, Spurs Economic Growth

February 12, 2014


Last year, the United Nations called for culture to be given top priority in the post-2015 global development agenda, citing its importance to economic growth, social inclusion, equality, and sustainable development. It is difficult to quantify the impact culture has on a nation…


Myanmar’s Libraries: A Potential Catalyst for Community Development

February 5, 2014


Despite five decades of near-isolation, the culture and appetite for education and reading is still very much alive for the people of Myanmar. The country maintains one of the highest literacy rates in Southeast Asia – 92.7 percent, according to government figures.


Credible Reform, Not Shutdown, Needed to End Thailand’s Political Standoff

January 15, 2014


For more than two months, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have gathered at Democracy Monument and other major intersections throughout Bangkok. Initially, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), led by former long-time Democrat politician, Suthep Thaugsuban…


In Highly Literate Myanmar, Local Storybooks are Missing from Shelves

September 4, 2013


As we contemplate the triumphs and remaining challenges in improving literacy this International Literacy Day, consider the fascinating case of Myanmar. The country is one of the poorest in Southeast Asia, with decaying infrastructure and an economy that is just now starting to pick up after decades of stagnation.


The Silent Crisis in Timor-Leste’s Development Trajectory

September 4, 2013


As International Literacy Day approaches, the matter of literacy remains an enormous challenge around the world, including in Asia’s youngest nation, Timor-Leste. Amid the competing development agendas for this democratizing, fast-developing, and oil-rich nation, education, and literacy in particular, too often falls by the wayside.


Picturing: A Storybook Partnership

September 4, 2013


In developing countries, one of the impediments to early childhood education is the availability of high-quality, age-appropriate reading material in local languages. Children’s book publishing is limited by the lack of specialized skills among local publishers, authors, and illustrators, and a consumer base that can afford extracurricular books. To address this gap, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program and Room to Read are partnering to expand access to compelling and culturally relevant early reading material to children in under-served communities throughout developing Asia.


Mongolia’s Young Women Leaders Inspire Merali Scholars

June 19, 2013


On June 9, the Zorig Foundation held its annual Young Women Leaders Event, which brought together 115 young women recipients of the Shirin Pandju Merali scholarship program. The recipients had a chance to meet one another and to hear the experiences of three successful women who rose to the top in spite of barriers…


The Invisible Girl

June 5, 2013


Fourteen million girls under the age of 18 are married every year – one every three seconds. The rates are highest in South Asia, where 46 percent of girls marry before they reach 18. Child marriage can be one of the most devastating forms of violence and discrimination against women.


A Conversation with First Resident U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN

May 29, 2013


In Asia editor Alma Freeman caught up with David Carden, the first resident U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN based in Jakarta, on a recent visit to The Asia Foundation in San Francisco, to discuss ASEAN connectivity, U.S.-ASEAN relations…


Elevating Education for Cambodia’s Growth

April 24, 2013


Yesterday marked the 18th World Book and Copyright Day, first introduced by UNESCO in 1995, in celebration of books, authors, and the joys of reading. It’s also an occasion to reflect on the importance of education, especially as a driver of poverty reduction.


Inaugural LankaCorps Alumni Share Experiences with Sri Lankan Diaspora

March 27, 2013


In July 2012, five strangers – Ann Selvadurai, Sabina Martyn, Seshma Kumararatne, Sahani Chandraratna, and Sivashankar Krishnakumar – boarded a plane to Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, under the auspices of a unique Asia Foundation fellowship program.


How Can Burma’s Libraries Catalyze Development?

February 27, 2013


A delegation from The Asia Foundation, Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), and International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) spent time in Burma (also known as Myanmar) last week to hear from citizens and representatives from government, civil society, and libraries…

Tamil Language Training at In-service Institute 

In Post-Conflict Sri Lanka, Language is Essential for Reconciliation

January 16, 2013


As a Canadian of Sri Lankan heritage, I am part of the growing diaspora living in the West who grew up speaking English as my first language. Since arriving in Sri Lanka as a LankaCorps Fellow I have been able to explore my “mother tongue,” taking lessons in both Tamil and Sinhala.


The Legacy of Shirin & Pandju Merali: Reducing Poverty One Girl at a Time

December 12, 2012


When I first met Pandju Merali at his home in Seal Beach, California, in 2010, he told me a story about his life, which is recorded in his memoir, From Africa 2 America. Mr. Merali talked about what it was like growing up as a child of Indian descent in the Congo…


Governance Expert Roohafza Ludin Examines Afghan Poll Findings

November 28, 2012


Immediately following the recent release of the much-anticipated 2012 Survey of the Afghan People, In Asia editor Alma Freeman spoke with Asia Foundation governance and education specialist in Kabul, Roohafza Ludin, for her reaction to the survey findings.


Insecurity, Unemployment, and Corruption Drive Perceptions of Afghan People

November 14, 2012


On November 14, The Asia Foundation released the results of its eighth annual Survey of the Afghan People in Kabul and Washington, D.C. The survey is the most comprehensive and credible nationwide public opinion poll available to the Afghan Government, international donor community, NGOs, and other institutions working for the improved welfare of the Afghan people.

Six Days in Afghanistan 

Kabul University Students Take Lead in Afghanistan’s Future

November 14, 2012


The streets of Kabul were packed as usual with cars as women scurried by in the street covering their faces with their headscarves to keep out the dust. But today, traffic was much worse than usual due to a new minister travelling in his convoy of armored cars flanked by heavily armed men.


The Heart of the New Burma

November 7, 2012


Rangoon shimmers under a blue sky in mid-October, but the gentle breezes announcing the coming end of the year soften the edge of the heat and allow for the day to ease gracefully into the evening. The city is more spread out than one would expect, with tree-lined streets wrapping around lakes and gardens…


Asia Foundation Presents Books to Burma’s Parliament

October 24, 2012


On October 24, in Nay Pyi Taw, Burma, The Asia Foundation presented a special collection of more than 600 volumes to the Burmese Parliament to help provide information about key democracy and development issues facing the country. The event was attended by U Khin Aung Mint, speaker of the Upper House; Thura U Shwe Mann, speaker of the Lower House o… Read more

The National Library of Vietnam 

Once Out of Reach, University Now Possible for Girls in Rural Vietnam

October 17, 2012


Last month, local headlines in Vietnam announced the government’s much-welcomed decision to earmark an additional $119 million (VND2.5 trillion) to assist with loans to low-income university students in the upcoming academic year. This is certainly good news, because despite Vietnam’s strong economic growth…


Stanford’s Scott Rozelle Examines Data and Education in Rural China

October 17, 2012


Dr. Scott Rozelle posed a difficult question during his presentation at Give2Asia’s 10th Anniversary Forum: What caused wages to rise in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea such that these once-booming manufacturing centers relinquished their first-place manufacturing titles in the 1970s and 1980s to China?


The Island Profiles Inaugural LankaCorps Fellows

October 17, 2012


For Sivashankar Krishnakumar, an electrical engineer from California who is placed with the Foundation of Goodness, organizing the Murali Harmony Cup was a stimulating experience, opening vistas hitherto unexplored. Born in Jaffna, Sivashankar left for the U.S. with his family as a young boy…


Burmese Librarians Discuss Country’s Appetite for Education, Changes Underway

September 26, 2012


The Asia Foundation’s Asian American Exchange unit and Books for Asia are currently conducting a 10-day observation program around northern California for 14 librarians from nine Asian countries. While in San Francisco, In Asia editor Alma Freeman caught up with two librarians from Burma…


In Conversation with BRAC’s Sir Fazle Hasan Abed

September 19, 2012


This week, development pioneer Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC, the largest nongovernmental development organization in the world, is in Washington, D.C., where he concludes his visit to the U.S. as an Asia Foundation Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Visiting Fellow.

Bangladesh July 2012: Ashulia School of Hope 

Bangladesh’s Garment Workers Help Drive Economy, But Not without Sacrifice

September 12, 2012


The industrial zone of Ashulia, just outside of Bangladesh’s sprawling capital, Dhaka, grabbed headlines in mid-June when hundreds of garment workers demanding higher minimum wages shut down over 300 factories. It was the most violent protests the region had experienced since 2010…

Cotton Entrepreneur 

Women’s Leadership Critical to Reaching Development Goals in Laos

September 12, 2012


In late August, Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong approved the first-ever national draft strategy on gender; a broad plan designed to increase the number of women in senior positions in government. The strategy is not yet public…


Harnessing Mobile Learning to Advance Global Literacy

September 5, 2012


This International Literacy Day, Sept. 8, 2012, marks the culmination of the United Nations Literacy Decade (UILD), an initiative launched in 2003 to increase literacy levels and develop literate environments worldwide.


In Remote Sabah, Books Can Help Reduce Isolation

September 5, 2012


I recently took a trip into the heart of Malaysian Borneo to visit some of the most remote schools that The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia serves. Borneo is a large island located north of Java, Indonesia. In the spring of 2011, we started a partnership with PACOS Trust…


Neil Armstrong, Southeast Asia, and International Literacy Day

September 5, 2012


Like many, I was saddened to learn of Neil Armstrong’s death in August. He was 82. When Mr. Armstrong made his “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” I was a 12-year-old boy growing up in New Jersey.

Books for Asia's Storytime in Asia campaign (Indonesia) 

VIDEO: Storytime Campaign Reaches 2 Million Children Across Asia

September 5, 2012


In the lead-up to International Literacy Day on September 8, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program launched Storytime in Asia, a month-long campaign that celebrates the transformative power of children’s books by providing critically needed reading material to some of the world’s poorest students.


As Afghanistan Transitions, Gains for Women’s Rights at Stake

June 6, 2012


More than 10 years of grim news from Afghanistan has made it easy to overlook the positive stories from the country – especially when the negative news is overwhelmingly preferred by campaigning politicians and media outlets to garner attention-grabbing headlines. But beyond the sound bites, real progress has been achieved by and for Afghanistan’s women, including broader freedoms, increased access to education, greater economic clout, and improved civic participation. You just have to look beyond front page headlines to see them.

Regional Women & Islam Curriculum 

Religious Leaders and Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

June 6, 2012


In a recent Asia Foundation staff meeting in Kabul announcing staff performance awards and commendations, an unexpected name was called out. Unlike other staff, Muhammad Aman was not being acknowledged for accomplishments in his direct line of duty.

Asia Foundation Delegation to Afghanistan, September 19-24, Board of Trustees & David Arnold Visit 

Keep Educating Afghanistan’s Girls

June 6, 2012


Afghan women and girls have fought hard to achieve advances in education, political participation, and economic independence. Now, a decade after Taliban rule kept girls home, nearly 3 million girls attend school, compared to just 5,000 in 2001…


Lotus Circle Honors National Geographic Work in Afghanistan

June 6, 2012


On June 7, The Asia Foundation and the Lotus Circle honored a decade-long partnership with National Geographic working to improve the lives of girls in Afghanistan through education. The partnership began in 2002 after photographer Steve McCurry rediscovered the iconic “girl with the green eyes” he had once photographed for a National Geographic co… Read more


Banking on the Poor: Integrating Low Income Populations into Vietnam’s Modern Economy

May 30, 2012


Nearly two decades of market-based development has dramatically changed the way Vietnamese live and work, transforming patterns of personal and commercial saving, borrowing, and lending. By 2011 there were 93 banks…

Books for Asia distribution at Leuwiranji Elementary School 

New Online Campaign Brings Children’s Books to Remote Indonesia

May 2, 2012


Last week, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia launched an online campaign with Pearson Foundation’s We Give Books initiative to help bring 5,000 new children’s books to schools in rural Indonesia. For each book read online, We Give Books will donate one new book to support…


Be Green. There’s an App for That

April 18, 2012


The wonderful thing about Earth Day is that this annual global celebration of our planet is largely self-organized. There is no overarching organization or government that has been implementing all the projects held on this day for the past 42 years, nor are individuals required by law to plant trees, participate in clean-ups, or host events that promote environmental causes.


Kabul ER: The Power of a Book

April 4, 2012


In Afghanistan, physicians at training hospitals across the country struggle to update their skills and provide adequate care to patients because of a lack of equipment, materials, and up-to-date medical texts and reference materials. In 2011, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia provided over 4,000 medical texts…

Access to Information and Justice 

Three Tech Advances That May Lead to a More Equitable World

March 28, 2012


“Just because they are poor and isolated doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to be the next Bill Gates,” said Shahed Keyes, the founder of Subornogram Foundation in Bangladesh, while introducing me to lively students at a school he started on the remote island of Mayadip.


Digital Libraries Expand Access to Information for Lao Citizens

March 28, 2012


Internet users in Laos are estimated at only 7 percent of the population as of 2010, the last time this data was gathered. But, despite how low this seems, that is double the number of users than in 2008. And, as the economy continues to grow, internet usage is steadily climbing in Laos.

Vivakananda Vidyalaya, Kalladai, Batticaloa 

Sri Lanka Launches Plan to Become Trilingual Nation

March 28, 2012


Three years after the end of decades-long armed conflict in Sri Lanka, there are new government-sponsored efforts afoot to encourage people to speak both national languages – Sinhala and Tamil – and to promote English as a common link language.


The Power of a Book in Sri Lanka

March 28, 2012


As Sri Lanka emerges from a decades-long civil war, employment opportunities are rapidly shifting from the public to the private and technology sectors, where speaking English is required. But, for many Sri Lankans living in impoverished outskirts or the war-torn North, English-language books are a luxury and remain out of reach.


Deadly Clan Violence Shocks Remote Community in Indonesia

February 22, 2012


In a remote corner of the sprawling Indonesian archipelago, a community is tearing itself apart. On the night of February 11, residents from Pelauw village on Haruku Island in the eastern province of Maluku, turned on their neighbors, hurling homemade bombs and setting hundreds of houses on fire…


O and Sal: The Jaipur Literature Festival in Two Names

January 25, 2012


Oprah Winfrey looked nervous. Making her way across the stage, she stopped to smile for the herd of photographers and then quickly sat down in her chair. Waiting for the applause to die down, she folded her hands in her lap. This was Oprah’s first visit to India; the press has tracked her every move as she traveled across the country…


Luang Prabang Film Festival Inspires and Showcases Lao Filmmakers

January 18, 2012


DVDs of popular Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Hollywood movies are readily available in Laos, but there are very few Lao films and only a small and nascent Lao filmmaking industry. With only a handful of movie theaters in the entire country, many citizens have never been to the cinema, and filmmaking is generally seen as a foreign industry. Not only are there few films about Laos, but even fewer told from a Lao point of view.


Reimagining Education at the Big Ideas Fest

January 11, 2012


For three days in December, individuals from a range of industries gathered at the 3rd Annual Big Ideas Fest to explore the future of education. In a venue overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a stone’s throw from Silicon Valley, teachers, administrators, and representatives from policy and advocacy groups…


Thailand’s Students Return to Classrooms, But Rebuilding Remains a Challenge

December 14, 2011


The flooding that submerged one-third of Thailand this year was the worst the country had seen in 50 years. Sixty-five provinces and over 4 million people have been affected, tens of thousands have lost jobs, and nearly 700 were killed. Nine provinces remain underwater.

Books for Asia Exhibit Photos: Hidayatullah State Islamic University 

Study Abroad Programs: A ‘Sure Thing’ for Development in Indonesia

December 7, 2011


Having worked with Indonesia’s higher education sector since 2000, I have come to believe that studying abroad is as close as one may come to a “sure thing” in Indonesian developmental assistance. Indonesian students and professors studying abroad are exposed to new educational techniques and knowledge…


Stanford, Asia Foundation Launch First Text to Focus on Laws of Timor-Leste

December 7, 2011


Law has little meaning when it is not widely understood. Concepts like “conflict of interest” or “integrity” are used repeatedly in theories and explanations of law, but they are not self-explanatory. Perhaps nowhere is this more the case than in Timor-Leste, where rule of law is in the early stages of institutionalization and not well-understood by most citizens.


Q&A: Survey Findings Reveal Ongoing Challenges for Afghan Women

November 16, 2011


In Asia’s editor, Alma Freeman, interviewed 2011 Survey of the Afghan People co-author and former Asia Foundation program director for Law, Human Rights, and Women’s Empowerment in Kabul, Najla Ayubi, for her reaction to the findings of The Asia Foundation’s 2011 Survey and what they might mean for women’s rights, peace talks, and more. Ayubi is currently the Afghanistan country director for the Open Society Foundation.


Analyzing Differences in Responses from Men and Women in Afghan Poll

November 16, 2011


Among the assets of the annual Survey of the Afghan People is the fact that the data is collected from men and women, and disaggregated as such. In this way, not only does the survey allow for a nuanced look at attitudes across geographic regions, ethnic groups, and age ranges, but it opens a window into the differences between women and men’s perceptions.

India 2009 - Karl Grobl 

What Does 7 Billion Look Like for China and India?

November 9, 2011


As world population reached 7 billion last week, stories about the implications of population growth saturated the media. While total population counts offer broad “sound bite” appeal, the underlying structure of population has far greater socio-economic, political, and environmental implications. Population composition by sex, age, ethnicity, educational attainment, political orientation, or geography matters for everything from school planning to environmental management and even to political stability.


Deep in Jakarta’s Slums, Community Learning Centers Thrive

October 26, 2011


Sitting at the back of the classroom, with one eye on her mobile phone, Shanti looks like a typical Indonesian high school student. But Shanti is not here to learn; instead, she’s a tutor herself. In a makeshift classroom constructed from two old shipping containers stacked on top of each other, Shanti tutors first grade students at the Master Community Learning Center in Depok, on the outskirts of Jakarta. “It’s a great experience,” the 17-year-old says. “I can contribute to the education of Indonesian children as well as help relieve some of the pressure on the learning center.”


Educating Indonesia’s Poorest

October 26, 2011


To mark Indonesia’s National Literacy Day on October 21, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program distributed 3,250 books to almost 50 Community Learning Centers across Jakarta. Located in low-income neighborhoods, these government-supported centers…

Azizul Haque College Bogra (BFA) 

2012 World Bank Development Report: Gender Equality as Smart Economics

October 5, 2011


The phrase “gender equality as smart economics” has become the recent mantra of such powerful women leaders as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet. It is also the rallying cry of the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report…


Timor-Leste’s President Calls for Redoubling of Nation’s Commitment to Education

September 14, 2011


On September 8, The Asia Foundation commemorated International Literacy Day for the first time in Timor-Leste. The Foundation partnered with the Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, Alola Foundation, Care International, and Timor Aid to host a book fair for primary and secondary students.


Traditional Afghan Tales Return Home

September 7, 2011


I was in my teens in England when I first heard the Afghan author and educator Idries Shah telling tales to his children, family, and friends. He had collected hundreds of these traditional stories from oral and manuscript sources in and around Afghanistan.

Vietnam 2009, Justin Mott/Getty Images for The Asia Foundation 2008 Annual Report 

Unlocking the Potential of Vietnam’s Libraries

September 7, 2011


Stories of Vietnam’s rapid development make headlines in local and international media regularly these days. In 1985, the average per-capita income in Vietnam was $130, making it one of the five poorest countries in the world. Now, with average incomes over $1,000, Vietnam’s highly literate population…


Q&A: Nepal Library Director Discusses Nation’s Literacy Challenges

September 7, 2011


As the world celebrates International Literacy Day on September 8, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia officer in Nepal, Shameera Shrestha, caught up with the director of the American Library at the U.S. Embassy of Kathmandu, Prakash Thapa, on where he sees the future of Nepal’s library system…


Family Legacy in Mindanao Inspires Community to Better Education

September 7, 2011


When Ireneo O. Pinzon and his family moved in the 1960s to Isulan, a rural town in Mindanao in the Southern Philippines, not a single library existed. Even 50 years later, the Southern Philippines continues to lag behind the more urban islands to the north.


Slideshow: Afghanistan’s Literacy Challenge

September 7, 2011


In recent years, Afghanistan’s battered education system has seen some progress – including more schools for boys and girls, and better access to critical resources such as books and classroom equipment. Yet, the nation’s literacy rate still remains one of the lowest in the world estimated at 27 percent. To help Afghanistan address this ongoing challenge…

The National Library of Vietnam 

In Vietnam, What Good is History?

August 24, 2011


Vietnam has just finished its university entrance exam season, with nearly 2 million applicants vying for a coveted spot in some 400 universities and colleges. The competition is fierce; only about one-third of them will be successful. Given the country’s strong traditional dedication to learning, the intense desire by Vietnamese parents to ensure that their children will have more opportunities than they had and will be able to compete in a more globalized world is driving the educational pressure even higher. The legacy of a socialist, polytechnic education system in Vietnam means that students are channeled early into specialized academic areas…


Afghan Education Leaders Find Unexpected Common Ground Visiting Virginia’s Schools

July 27, 2011


As we pulled up to a nondescript office building in Charlottesville, Virginia, a woman on her cell phone waved cheerily to us, confirming we had finally arrived at the right place after a two-hour drive from Washington, D.C., and adventures with wavering GPS signals.

three school age kids, boy, girls, uniform 

Students from Asia Most Globally Mobile

June 15, 2011


Students from Asia comprise the largest group of globally mobile students around the world (43 percent). Students from China (820,000) represent 25 percent of the global total of international students and over 268,000 Indian students are enrolled in higher education institutions (HEIs) around the world.

Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation Scholarship: Supporting Women's Higher Education in Mongolia 

For Mongolia’s Rural Girls, University Education Often Out of Reach, Until Now

June 8, 2011


As university students across Mongolia complete final exams this week, 60 girls at two of the top universities in the country came together over the weekend to look back at their first year as recipients of Merali Scholarships.

Wendy Rockett's trip to Sri Lanka 

Hope for Resurgence of Sri Lanka’s North Rests on Education

May 11, 2011


On a recent trip to Sri Lanka, I traveled by car from Colombo to Jaffna, a journey of more than 10 hours, and I discovered a city that seemed quietly determined to move forward. Two years after the devastating civil war between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tigers ended…


Books Help Transform Indonesia’s Poorest Elementary Schools

April 27, 2011


A year ago, the Leuwiranji Elementary School in West Java was falling down. Located in a remote corner of the district of Bogor, the school’s 177 students come from poor families who are mostly employed in the sand-and-rock harvesting business that supplies a booming construction industry in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta.


“Let’s Work Together”: The Power of Print in Timor-Leste

November 19, 2008


In early October, the Timorese art collective Gembel launched its first major exhibition in Dili, with financial assistance from The Asia Foundation. The exhibit, Recovering Lives Across Borders, featured the print works produced from successful collaborations between Gembel and two unique art groups: Taring Padi from Indonesia, and Culture Kitchen… Read more


From Mongolia: International Recognition for Writers

June 4, 2008


It’s happening slowly, but it’s happening: Mongolian writers are taking steps toward forming a branch of International PEN (Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, and Novelists). International PEN, the only international organization of writers, is dedicated to literary fellowship and freedom of expression around the world. It was founded in 1921 by Mrs. C… Read more


Books are not obsolete!

May 30, 2008


As I pack my bags for Book Expo America, where I will meet with publishers whose generous donations are improving the lives of millions, I am struck by the high level of participation by the publishing industry and the general public. About 25,000 people will gather in Los Angeles for three days to discuss the latest trends, hear talks from bestsel… Read more


From Pakistan: Delivering Books to Peshawar and Quetta

May 28, 2008


In March, I traveled to Quetta and Peshawar to oversee the distribution of 15,000 books to the University of Balochistan and the University of Peshawar. Books can annihilate a sense of distance, whether between people or places. In Pakistan, donations from Books for Asia (BFA) ” amounting to 2.5 million books since 1954 — have traditionally concen… Read more


From Thailand: Pondok Students Learn In and Outside the Classroom

April 30, 2008


Nakmeen Waeming is a 14-year-old student who dreams of becoming a diplomat. “In the future I would like to be Thailand’s ambassador to Malaysia and work on border issues between the two countries.” To achieve her goals, Nakmeen understands that having foreign language proficiency, in particular English, is an essential part of her future. Yet stude… Read more


In Afghanistan: A Missing Piece in the Development Puzzle

May 23, 2007


The international community has engaged with Afghanistan in profound ways since December 2001.  Billions of dollars have been pledged and provided to rebuild the country, put the state back together, and help Afghanistan take its rightful place in the world.  This has been a collaborative effort involving bilateral donors, multilateral donors, nong… Read more