This profile was prepared when Abdul Waheed was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
The thousands of madrasahs that operate in Pakistan have gained a bad reputation for indoctrinating children in narrow and violent versions of Islam. These institutions are flawed, but in many cases they offer the only educational services available to poor families. Abdul Waheed engages with madrasahs to better serve the deep interests of their students to learn and succeed in the modern world. He has spread new courses in mathematics, computers, and the Urdu language to hundreds of schools. He also helps madrasah boarding houses convert into day schools, involving the parents and local community in decisions on curriculum and structure. Taken together, Abdul Waheed’s reforms pave the way for a major shift in the role of madrasahs, preparing them to deliver high-quality education to thousands of young Pakistanis