Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Yahia Baiza completed his elementary and secondary education in Kabul, Afghanistan. He graduated from Industrial College Trnava, Slovakia (formerly Czechoslovakia) in Engineering Technology in 1989. After graduating he lived in Afghanistan before he moved to Germany in 1994.
Dr Baiza is a GPISH Alumnus [of year 2002]. The IIS scholarship enabled him to complete a two-year postgraduate degree in Islamic Studies and Humanities at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and the Institute of Ismaili Studies.
In his third year of scholarship he changed his profession from Engineering Technology to educational studies. He completed his master’s degree in Educational Research Methodology, from University of Oxford, Department of Educational Studies, and to conduct several field research projects on the educational opportunities and challenges facing Afghan refugees in Pakistan. His MSc thesis was on Issues and Challenges of Higher Education for Afghan Ismaili Refugees in Pakistan (2002).
In 2006, Dr Baiza was invited by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education (MoE) and the UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (UNESCO-IIEP) to serve as the UNESCO-IIEP National Coordinator and representative at the MoE. During this time he assisted the Ministry in building technical capacity in educational planning and developing its first Five-Year National Education Strategic Plan (2006–2010).
Dr Baiza received his doctoral degree from the University of Oxford, Department of Education, where he researched education in Afghanistan. His doctoral thesis is entitled Education in Afghanistan, 1901–2006: Developments, Influences and Legacies, and focuses on the history of ‘modern education’ from the time of Amir Habibullah (1901–1919) to 2006. In particular, it analyses the reasons behind the degradation of the traditional madrasa education, the difference between modern and madrasa education systems and why the madrasa system was unable to meet the challenges and technological needs of the people in modern times.
At present, he is working as research associate at the Central Asian Studies, Department of Academic Research and Publications. Over the past five years, working at the IIS, Dr. Baiza completed two two-year research projects, The Hazara Ismailis of Afghanistan: Their History, Religious Rituals and Practices; and The Plurality of Shari‘ah Interpretations and the Shi‘a Ismailis of Afghanistan. In these studies, which included fieldwork in Kabul, he researched the ethnic origin of the Hazara people in Afghanistan, their Shi‘a and Ismaili orientations, their religious rituals and practices, and their understandings and interpretations of, as well as engagements with, the shari‘a.
Dr Baiza is currently working on a new research project, Ismaili Religious Education in Afghanistan, 2002-2014: design, implementations and expectations. In this research project, he explores and analyses contemporary Ismaili religious education in Afghanistan (IRE-A) from 2002 to the current date. The project aims to contextualize the current IRE-A within the wider debate of religious education (RE) in general, and RE in Islam, with a particular focus on its Ismaili dimension, in particular. This study involves a fieldwork for which Dr Baiza will travel to Afghanistan.
Dr Baiza has a wide range of publications on various aspects of education, history and religion in Afghanistan. He has also spoken in a wide variety of international conferences and seminars on educational research methodology, educational challenges and opportunities for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, challenges of educational reform in Afghanistan, rethinking madrassa education, the emerging identity among the Afghan Ismaili community in Germany, language and translation, and the role of religion, state and politics in Afghanistan.