An Elementary School for Girls — 1907

Following the battle  in 1898, when the Anglo-Egyptian army decisively defeated the Sudanese nationalist forces, a young Sudanese survivor of that battle,Babiker Badri, journeyed up the Blue Nile and settled in the village of Rufu'a. There he opened a secular school, as opposed to the traditional religious schools, for boys.

Babiker was a deeply religious man and widely respected for his knowledge of the Koran. But he also had the radical idea that girls should also receive at least a minimum education so they could be more of a companions  their husbands. The fact that Babiker had thirteen daughters as well as some sons may have influenced his views. In 1904, he asked the British authorities for permission to open an elementary school for girls. Fearing a negative popular reaction because of the radical nature of this request, the British Commission of Education for Sudan denied his request. A similar request in 1906 was also denied. ButBabiker was a determined man, as the British were to learn. Finally, his request was granted by Sir James Currie, Director of the Educational Department of the British administration of the Sudan at that time. In granting approval, Sir James noted that: "I would myself prefer that the government should not undertake the task (girls' education) for some time. But.... I cannot see that any possible harm can accrue from starting something (girls' education) here (at Rufu'a)". Finally, in 1907, Babiker began his secular school for girls in a mud hut with nine of his own daughters and eight of those of his neighbors.

The Ahfad College for Women — 1966

From this humble beginning, the Badri family has nurtured private education in Sudan for over three generations. Babiker's son, Yusuf, carried on his father's work, and in 1966 established the Ahfad University College for Women in Omdurman across the Nile from Khartoum and near the site of the battle in which Babiker had fought as a young Sudanese soldier. Begun with only 23 students and a faculty of three, including Yusuf, Ahfad now has an enrollment of over 7,5000 udergrauate Students and more than 300 postgraduate Students. From the site of an original mud-brick boy's school, Ahfad has spread to an adjacent area and is now occupying a modern, new campus. 

By the time he died in 1954, Babiker was widely hailed as an educational pioneer in Sudan and accorded the honor of being addressed as Sheik Babiker. Professor Yusuf Bedri, who died in 1995, was recognized as well as a pioneer in the education of women in Sudan. His son, Dr. Gasim Badri, has continued to expand Ahfad's curriculum and innovations in teaching.

Full University Status — 1995

Based on the expansion of its curriculum and student body, the Sudan National Council for Higher Education granted full university status to Ahfad in 1995. The Ahfad University for Women

(AUW) is the oldest and largest private university in Sudan. It may be the only private women's university in Africa.

"Ahfad" — For Our Grandchildren 
In Arabic, "Ahfad" means for "our grandchildren". Babiker aptly and wisely chose this name for the initial Ahfad schools, which Yusuf preserved when he established the Ahfad University College for Women. Indeed, Babiker's grandchildren are among the leaders and faculty of The Ahfad University for Women today