Heller Profiles

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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Masoud Juya

Afghanistan • Co-Founder, Kahkashan-e-Sharq University

MS '11

Citizen Leaders: Harnessing the Power of Education

Masoud Juya aims to change the field of higher education in Afghanistan

Masoud Juya opened a school for children in Afghanistan when he was a child himself — at the age of 14. The idea came from the need to help support his family and a desire to serve his community. Juya had worked full-time in his family’s carpet weaving business in Herat since he was 5 years old. “At the age of 8, I was an expert weaver,” he says. “At the age of 11, I supervised a dozen individuals.” It was hard work. Founding and running a school, Juya says, seemed “less challenging than working full-time since I was 5.”

When the doors first opened at Herat-e-Bastan School/Training Center, Juya did everything himself. “I was the only teacher, the cleaner, and everybody else during the first few months.” To make ends meet, he also worked at several NGOs. “Every kid who studied at my school was an inspiration for me,” he says. “My school has helped educate hundreds of poor people who were denied educational services at other places.”

Juya’s school grew quickly. At one point, there were 400 boys taking classes (the Taliban did not allow him to enroll girls). Despite the harsh regime’s threats to shut him down, Juya continued to teach English, computers and other nonreligious subjects. When the Taliban finally collapsed, Juya jumped at the chance to expand his program. “My school was the first institution to gather girls and boys under one roof to celebrate their education.”

With his school firmly established, Juya turned his attention to achieving another goal — becoming a doctor. For the next seven years, he attended medical school at Herat University. He earned an MD in 2007, but Juya was not yet finished with his own education. In 2009, he came to the Heller School to study international health policy and management on a Fulbright Scholarship. “At the Heller School, I learned about management, leadership, sustainability and other developmental values,” he says. “The classes I took gave me frameworks to use in my daily work in the field of development.” 

With so much success and achievement to his credit, you might think Juya would pause to appreciate what he’s accomplished. But this is not in his nature. “I have a commitment and a desire for change,” he says. Today, Juya is embarking on perhaps his biggest project yet — launching a new university in Afghanistan. Founded in January 2013, Kahkashan-e-Sharq University will offer programs in economics, journalism, languages and humanities, law and political science, midwifery, nursing and pharmacy.

“With the new university that I have cofounded, I believe I can make a change in the field of higher education in Afghanistan,” Juya says. “I know it will take a while, but I am determined.”

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