Friday, June 26, 2009

2009 Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellow Selected - Shehzad Roy (06/29/09)

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has awarded the 2009 Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship to Shehzad Roy, Pakistani pop star and president and founder of the Zindagi Trust, an organization working to improve primary and secondary education in Pakistan. The fellowship recognizes Roy’s commitment to providing better learning opportunities in government-run schools, and honors his goal of encouraging Pakistan’s youth “to value education and provide them with the knowledge and opportunities they need to realize a peaceful, democratic political future.”

As a Koldyke Fellow, Shehzad Roy will spend one week in Chicago exchanging ideas about education, philanthropy, and nonprofit management with the city’s civic, government, business, and academic leaders. Roy will deliver a major public address about education in Pakistan to a Chicago Council audience the evening of October 29, 2009.

The Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship was established by the Koldyke family to recognize leading social entrepreneurs from around the world between the ages of thirty and forty-five, who are working to transform their societies through creative innovations to social problems. In 2009, the Koldyke Fellowship selection committee focused on primary and secondary education in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Roy uses the proceeds from his hugely popular concerts to fund the work of the Zindagi Trust, which since 2002 has established vocational centers and health-care clinics and has worked to improve Pakistan’s educational system. One of its first projects, “I am Paid to Learn,” provided child laborers nationwide with monetary compensation for attending school, an important initiative in a country where more than 10.5 million children under the age of fifteen work menial jobs to support their families.

More recently, Roy received the government’s permission to take over the 2,500-student Fatimah Girls School in Karachi, where he introduced new textbooks and a curriculum that embraces individual growth, arts, and sports. “The aim is to produce a ‘thinking’ individual,” says Roy. “Students must learn to inquire freely rather than becoming book parrots. There has to be a culture of discussion, interaction, and proactive thinking.” His goal is nothing short of reforming the entire government-run school system in Pakistan.

Shehzad Roy is one of the youngest-ever recipients of the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, one of Pakistan’s highest civil honors. He has also been awarded Pakistan’s highest humanitarian award, the Sitara-e-Eisaar. He recently won two MTV Pakistan awards for his music, and was a torch-bearer for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Click here for the press release