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MTA Human and Civil Rights Awards announced

The Massachusetts Teachers Association announced that Sadiqa Basiri, a Mount Holyoke student from Afghanistan, and Maria de Lourdes Serpa, a professor of bilingual education and special education at Lesley University, will be named this year's recipients of the MTA's Human and Civil Rights Awards. The awards were presented to them at a banquet at the Westin Copley Plaza on Thursday, May 4.

Ms. Basiri was selected for the award for her "courage, passion and extraordinary effort in advocating for the education of girls in Afghanistan." She helped to found four schools for girls in the remote Wardak province, where no schools for girls had previously existed.

"My dream is to see my sisters well educated in a peaceful Afghanistan," Ms. Basiri wrote in an autobiographical essay. "They should be able to raise their voices to get their rights since I can't stand seeing them tortured and murdered in the name of honor any more."

Maria de Lourdes Serpa, a professor at Lesley University since 1983, was nominated for the MTA's Creative Leadership in Human Rights Award by Margaret Adams, a teacher of English language learners in Brockton. Adams praised her as "a fabulous teacher and a great person who has such a love for all kids and communities."

Dr. Serpa is a leading expert in how to educate English language learners who also have special education needs. She has trained hundreds of teachers and led several large projects to help school systems enhance the education of culturally and linguistically diverse students.

The MTA has been granting Human and Civil Rights Awards since 1983. The awards are granted in individuals who have demonstrated leadership in fighting discrimination and promoting equal opportunity for women, people of color, the disabled or to those who are economically disadvantaged.

Previous Human and Civil Rights Awards winners.