Asian University for Women (AUW): the first regional, liberal arts institution in South Asia

Pathways for Promise

  • Pathways for Promise

    Pathways for Promise seeks to break aspirational barriers for young women who represent severely marginalized groups including Ready-Made Garments (RMG) workers, Rohingya ethnic minorities and daughters of Grameen Bank borrowers.

    To further deepen AUW’s reach into communities that remain underserved, AUW launched Pathways for Promise in January 2016. Pathways for Promise is an intensive one-year pre-university residential program tailored to the needs of a sector of students who, were it not for Pathways, would not have the opportunity to pursue an undergraduate Liberal Arts degree and reap the numerous consequent benefits for both themselves and the communities they come from.  Pathways enables AUW to create an unprecedented channel for educating women from several of the most neglected and oppressed groups of women, including women working in Bangladesh’s garments factories and Rohingya women.

    Creating Opportunities for Female Garments Workers. Bangladesh has nearly four million women who work in this export sector. AUW reasoned that any group that large must have some extraordinary talent. In collaboration with a select group of factory owners, AUW offered admissions tests on the shop floors of factories. Participating factory owners offered a huge incentive — workers accepted for admission would continue to receive their monthly wages for all five years at AUW. Still, nobody knew if any of workers would try. Over one-thousand did, and now, 35 former garments workers are enrolled in Pathways. Seeing the success of the program, many factories around the country have registered their interest to be a part of this project in the upcoming school year.

    Educating Rohingya Women. The Rohingya ethnic minority have long been victims of their statelessness and not having full access to key societal infrastructure such as education. Through a concerted effort in collaboration with community leaders, 50 women from the Rohingya community in Bangladesh and in Burma have enrolled in Pathways. Upon graduation from AUW, they will quite possibly represent the largest single cohort of Rohingya women educated to such a high level.

    Two major supporters of Pathways for Promise are IKEA Foundation, one of AUW’s most generous and long-standing partners, who provided all the financial support for the first 26 garments workers in the Pathways program and Open Society Foundations (OSF), created by George Soros, was one of AUW’s earliest supporters. OSF has extended their support for the education of Rohingya women.

    Pathways for Promise Admissions

    A rigorous selection process ensures that the women entering Pathways show the potential for both academic excellence and future leadership.   A personal interview explores applicants’ demonstration of leadership potential, measured by courage, empathy, and a sense of outrage at injustice. However, a low level of English language skills is an obstacle to both academic development and the global citizenship skills that AUW cultivates in our students.  Accordingly, a substantial focus of the Pathways Program is on developing the student’s English language skills in an approach which equips the students with the linguistic and communicative competencies that allows them to become effective communicators in both the academic and social AUW communities.

    A student who enrolls at AUW through Pathways will complete her studies along the following trajectory: one year of English language one year of Access Academy; three years in the undergraduate program.

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