Archives

DurationMar 01, 2016Jan 31, 2017
LocationNangarhar Province, Afghanistan
Key Activities
  • Two 3-day civic Education camps
  • Two 5-day training on pedagogical techniques and classroom management
  • Two 5-day Master Teachers’ Trainings
  • 10 Follow-up Sessions
  • 6 Coaching & Mentoring Sessions
  • 4 DRR & 15 DRR Awareness Raising Sessions
  • 140 Plastic Mats Distribution & 617 Stationery Kits Distribution
  • One 4-Day DRR Training for Government Officials
  • 14 Awareness Sessions on Importance of Education & 8 Child Rights and Gender Equality Trainings
Participants2,974 beneficiaries including students, teachers, government officials and community members

Heena, a Grade 3 teacher at the Abdurahman Pazhwak Girls High School, one of the participating schools under the Girls Education Project in Nangarhar, Afghanistan,  has been teaching using traditional methodologies such as lectures and rote learning.

“My students were scared of me; they were scared to ask me questions and I could sense that they felt my behaviour towards them was very strict. But I knew no other way of behaving around them to maintain discipline in class. This was the only technique I knew of to make them learn, and achieve good results. However, things did not remain the same for long,”

affirmed Heena.

“One day, I got the opportunity to attend a Teachers Training on developing our pedagogical skills organized by Community World Service Asia. The training was an eye opener for me. There were topics that I had never heard of before; such as Morning Meetings, Child-Centred Classrooms and Interactive methodologies of learning consisting of group works, role plays and developing low cost/no cost teaching aids.”

The training completely changed Heena’s teaching style and her attitude towards students.

“After attending the training, I entered the class with a new frame of mind. I began to apply my learnings; I greeted students with a smile, conducted morning meetings, shared interesting news and announcements with them, encouraged an exchange of personal stories and small gifts. I also organized role plays and delegated group assignments to them. I not only used no cost/low cost materials in class, but actually involved my students in making these materials with me.”

An environment of healthy competition was introduced by Heena amongst her students, which was often followed by appreciation for students who made greater efforts in class. This change in behaviour helped with positive reinforcement in her class, and even the back benchers began to take greater interest in studying.

“My students were very happy and surprised with the new approaches and my changed behaviour. I had become much more humble, polite and friendly.”

This not only improved the learning aptitude of students, but also helped them in increasing their confidence and knowledge. Students began to take more interest in attending classes regularly, and shared interesting learnings from school with their families and communities.

“It increased the enrolment and new admissions in our school as well,”

informed Heena.

An interschool competition was held at the Conference Hall of Education Directorate in Nangarhar Province. It was a skill-based competition where four schools competed on the knowledge test of four subjects, namely Mathematics, Islamic, Science and Languages. The Judges’ committee included noted individuals such as Mohammad Usman Langarkhel and Lailuma Wali, who are members of the Parliament.

“The process of judgment was very transparent, and my students were declared winners of the competition. They were awarded gifts and cash prizes as well. The change in my style of teaching had truly shown positive results. My students were shining the brightest at the event. It was a day of celebration for all of us as our combined hard work and struggle had paid off!”

Improving the capacities of education officials on monitoring and evaluation (M&E) skills contributes directly to the quality and accountability in reporting on education. It also impacts the expectations of schools and teachers that are held accountable for sub-professional behaviors, such as absenteeism.  Improved M&E systems would also support better reporting and would lead to improvement in information available to relevant decision-makers. To refine the existing system, a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Training was conducted in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan end of March this year for Provincial and District level education directorates. A total of 20 participants (men) attended the informative training at the Community World Service Asia office in Jalalabad.

Education officials in Afghanistan undertook joint monitoring visits to schools that are part of Community World Service Asia’s Girls Education Project to observe teacher trainings, classroom instructions and school-based civil education camps. In addition, they received coaching on appropriately utilizing M&E tools and on developing a comparative study of M&E systems run by other professionals in different fields.

The participants were trained on the difference between Monitoring and Evaluation processes and how to conduct an effective monitoring visit to thoroughly observe the teaching process of school teachers and the management system of school principals. During the training, the participants were engaged in various group activities where they developed monitoring and supervision plans and ways of using existing forms and formats of the Education Directorate for monitoring purposes, providing feedback and recommendations. Sessions on conflict resolution further modified the participants’ role in conflict management, if any existed in the schools.

Schools and teaching environments will benefit greatly through the commitment of effective M&E staff provided they are well equipped with knowledge and necessary skills in the said field. The monitors efficiently conduct visits and provide teachers and school management with good and constructive feedbacks and recommendations in order to improve. Furthermore, the regular visits of M & E officers will ensure systematic school management processes. The teachers’ teaching methods are observed to assure that new methods learnt from trainings are implemented rationally; existing gaps are identified and further improved accordingly. These trainings are vital as it enhances monitoring systems in the Ministry of Education and fulfils the aim of ensuring quality education within the targeted schools.

Ghulam Haider, an elderly leader of Khalwan Village, Surkhrood District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, has been working with great dedication and enthusiasm advocating for girls’ education in his community over the past few years. “I was born and raised in an environment where people do not think with open minds. They strictly follow norms, traditions, and culture, which unfortunately do not allow our girls to access education. People here believe that women are born to stay within their homes, under strict “pardah” (veil). Sending girls to schools, colleges, or universities for education and pursuing a career is considered shameful and a dishonor for families. An educated lifestyle is considered to be no better than a disrespectful lifestyle, one which is not permitted within Islam, according to most people.”

Ghulam Haider believes that this pattern of thinking is fundamentally wrong, especially as it is being ingrained in the minds of children of newer generations. “Being a practicing Muslim, I believe that Islam is a religion of peace and prosperity, and it provides equal rights to all. In order to prosper, it’s necessary to accept the fact that Islam promotes education for both men and women equally. I always wished to discuss this aspect with our community members and religious leaders, but due to a lack of knowledge myself, I could not formulate valid arguments which would have been enough to persuade others.”

“Thankfully, the project team of Community World Service Asia, under the Girls Education Project (GEP), conducted informative sessions on the importance of education and child rights in our villages,” said Haider, “All community members, parents and religious leaders alike would sit in one space as participants in these programs.” He shared the significance of sourcing religious scripture and messages such as hadiths and Quranic verses in the sessions; quotes which explicitly favored education of men and women, and the right to provide young girls with education. “These sessions provided food for thought for the people of my village. Now that my knowledge was being built for the cause of education, I decided to take an initiative to formulate a volunteer committee.”

Ghulam Haider and his committee have since been supporting girls and women to pursue education and their dreams through acquiring knowledge and becoming educated. “Fatima, a young teacher from my village, is very enthusiastic and eager to become a professional teacher to serve our community. To accomplish her dream, she has established a literacy course for 13 women members with our support. She is voluntarily teaching basic level reading and writing to her students on a daily basis for an hour. The second batch of her classes have successfully graduated from the adult literacy class recently. Twenty six women have learnt to read and write from her literacy program which is an excellent achievement. To show appreciation, and motivate others to do the same, the committee awarded her with the title of “Best Girl of the Community”. Her services in the field of education were so invaluable that they were also acknowledged by our religious leaders, which shows a major change in the thinking of some of the most rigid minds.” In the award ceremony, Fatima gave credits of her achievement to both Ghulam Haider and the GEP project team for their outright support in her struggle. She hoped that with the passage of time, other elderly members of the community would also take Haider as an exemplary model and follow his lead in the pursuit of promoting education.

In a country where just 16% of the workforce is female, teaching women science subjects can help foster greater equality, empowerment and economic stability. Community World Service Asia holds teacher training workshops, through which aim is to improve education quality and community’s awareness for enhancing and sustaining enrollments in girls’ schools in Behsood district, Nangarhar province. Despite of the limitation teachers are eager to learn more and are interested to enhance their teaching skills. On this Women’s Day we spoke to a young Chemistry teacher; Huda from a local girls’ high school, located in Behsood.

Huda:

“I am very pleased to have participated in the chemistry workshop, since I studied chemistry at a teacher training institute but only learnt it in theory. In this workshop however, we learned practical and conducting experiments. When I learned the philosophy, methodology with practical experiments I became more clear about the concepts and highly motivated to transfer what I learnt by continue teaching chemistry to my students.”

She added:

“We received methodic learning and used low cost and no cost teaching aids. We are now implementing those methods. My aim is to teach students according to their needs.”

When asked about the suggestions to improve subject base training, she said:

“The workshop was great and useful, but I felt the days were less for three science subjects. If the days were increased from 4 days and teaching aids for Grades 10th, 11th, 12th chemistry lessons could have been included to solve all of our problems accordingly.”

In a highly conservative country where up to 85% of women have had no formal education, and only 16% of the workforce are women, in many ways these students are the lucky ones.

Still, according to the students, they face problems at home as their families do not allow their young daughters to attend school. Some only allow them to learn basic reading and writing. Yet, most of the girls are very motivated to learn sciences.”

Says Huda

She added:

“According to methodical topics, I found the morning meeting session as very important. First I thought of it as not useful to be implemented in class, but when I practiced in these meetings among students it proved to be very effective and useful. Students interest increased a lot and they loved interacting with each other and also started participating during lectures. This even led to a decrease in absentees and now up to 90% of the students have regular attendance Moreover, before these sessions, we used to scold students, but now we motivate them through different techniques in teaching. In teaching science my students saw how they did not need to bear extra cost for learning science. This acted as a great incentive for them.”

She also spoke about her personal aspirations:

“I am also very interested and motivated to complete my higher education.”

In the end she said:

“I suggest to expand subject based training to other untrained teachers. Teachers who have participated should implement their learnings in their classes to motivate and stimulate the learning of their students for a better future for these young girls”

The story from Afghanistan feeds into a wider struggle going on throughout the world to get more women into Science. While cultural barriers threaten the dreams and aspirations of young women and girls, the opportunities they can find through the science show them a larger world than the one that they have always known.

*Editor’s Note: This story has been revised to further protect the privacy and therefore safety of students and staff at the schools.

Shumaila, a 16 year old student of a Girls High School, Behsood district of Nangarhar Province, was a timid young girl dreaming to one day have the confidence to speak before a crowd, and be an all-rounder at school.

“One day, the principal of our school came to our class and announced that a summer camp on civic education is going to be held at school. I immediately raised my hand and showed my interest to attend the workshop. My teachers were surprised to see my reaction,”

narrated a bashful Shumaila.

“This four day camp was a lifetime changing experience for me. I learnt topics which we as students or even teachers had never learnt in school, such as human rights, child rights, state governance and democracy. Most importantly, the session on gender was very interesting and new to us.”

Shumaila  recalled how she enjoyed the various activities conducted at the camp; all were participatory and interactive.

“There was a lot of group work, role plays, art and paintings, energizers, and to top it all, a mock election!”

exclaimed Shumaila with excitement beaming in her eyes.

During the session on leadership skills, students were taught practical lessons on effective speech, and addressing audiences of different kinds. The mock election sessions were a simulation of the Afghan electoral process where all the students participated and role played.   Students at the session were asked to nominate three students for the candidacy of President, who were then asked to formulate their individual support groups who would canvass in favor of their respective leaders. Speeches were delivered, slogans were raised, and posters were displayed in the school; it was all a series of fun and learning based activities which further motivated the participants’ interest.

“It was during that election campaign that I acquired the skills and got the confidence required to speak and deliver speeches in public. The most important and memorable moment of my life was when the result of the elections was announced, and I was declared the winner. I felt as if I had been elected as the president of Afghanistan. Tears came out of my eyes with excitement and happiness. The summer camp changed my personality and I came out as an entirely different person. I became confident and developed knowledge on politics, rights of children and women. I wish to take part in real politics of my country some day, for the well being of my people and the development of Afghanistan,”

proclaimed Shumaila.

After participating in the summer camp on civic education, Shumaila started participating in all school  activities.

“There is a Shura of women in our community who mediate activities and conduct meetings between the school and students of the community. Previously I had not participated in meetings of the Shura, but since the elections I have started to participate primarily to raise issues faced by my friends and work fellows.”

 Shumaila put forward demands of hiring more professional and experienced teachers at school, and that the appeal was practically implemented.

“It was an achievement for the well-being of the students of our school. Following these changes, students participated in an interschool speech competition, and three of us won trophies as well.”

A graduation ceremony was conducted at the University of Nangarhar, which was attended by a number of teachers, students and government officials from the provincial Education department.

“I was invited to speak on the topic of importance of education. My speech was highly appreciated to the extent that the Director of Education awarded me with valuable gifts and encouraged me to continue my struggle for my peers.”

 

Blood feuds handed down through generations are very common in parts of Afghanistan, and revenge is regarded as a necessary redress of the many wrongs of the past no matter what the present circumstances. Many are left to fend for themselves regardless of their role in such legendary feuds. Gullali, mother of five children, was a victim of one such incident that changed her life dramatically.

Living a happy and content life with her husband, an experienced mason, her four sons and a daughter in Pashaiee Village, Mehterlam, Gullali and her family were blessed with all the comforts of a basic life;  adequate food, healthcare, education, clothing and other household needs. A tragic turning point in the life of Gullali came when her husband was killed in October (2016) by an unknown assailant in front of their own home. Gullali was left alone and in a state of worry and fear for the lives of her children and herself.  She was therefore forced to leave everything behind and move to Samtado Village, Mehterlam, where her parents lived.

In Samtado, Gullali’s living conditions deteriorated from what they were at her lovely home. Gullali and her children temporarily lived within an old, mud built room at her parent’s house. She had very little family support as her parents did not earn very well and she was unable to bare the daily expenses of her five children. Some of their fellow villagers, helped Gullali on and off financially while most other time she earned a meagre income through cleaning the houses of their neighbours in the village.

The Directorate of Returnees and Refugees Office in Afghanistan knew of Gullali and her poor state of affairs through their assessments and introduced her to Community World Service Asia. As Community World Service Asia had recently launched a project with the support of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and Church of Sweden (CoS), to respond to the needs of Afghan returnees and internally displaced people (IDPs), the team was happy to support her through the project.

The team assessed Gullali’s living conditions and was soon provided with assistance and support as she was going through a very hard time. Gullali was initially provided an emergency shelter (tent) for her children and her to live in safely as her temporary residence, due to its weak structure, could possibly collapse any day. Gullali was very pleased to move in the tent as she was also provided with additional facilities that would keep her children warm in the coming, freezing winter. The family was also able to access to the health facilities set up by Community World Service Asia for all returning refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in the emergency shelters. Gullali’s children are also attending school in makeshift schools near their present home and are living a comparatively comfortable life.

This project is successfully being implemented running in the Laghman and Nangarhar provinces of Afghanistan under which basic health facilities are also provided to families residing in the emergency shelters.

Education is the stepping stone to achieving success in life and enables individuals to utilize their skills and talents productively.  To ensure that this essential right of individuals is met, Community World Service Asia, with the support of Act for Peace and Presbyterian World service and Development (PWS&D) is implementing a Girls Education in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. This initiative aims to improve the quality of education quality and community’s awareness towards enhancing and sustaining girls’ enrollments in schools in the Behsood district of the province.

A five days Master Teacher Training has been designed to consign activities with sessions focusing on  Coaching and Mentoring for teachers in schools under the project. The training ended in the first week of September with a total of  twenty teachers taking part.  Four of these teachers were men, while sixteen of them were women.

The training explored the process of creating child friendly classrooms. Child-friendly classrooms have shown to increase student motivation and enrollment, hence was a significant session of the training. The learning involved sessions on developing low or no cost teaching materials that would effectively support lesson planning and increase student interest. The training focused on skill polishing on planning processes for effective classroom routines including annual, monthly, monthly and daily planning. It also highlighted the importance of morning meetings which promoted development of social and emotional skills, positive attitudes and values among children.

Coaching and mentoring sessions were conducted for new teachers. The main focus of coaching and mentoring conversations for education quality is to build the competency and capability of teachers. This skill will enable them to plan towards achieving the school’s strategic vision and priorities in the curriculum, teaching and learning methodologies, classroom assessments, and can effectively make judgments about students’ progress and outcomes.

The five-day training involved brainstorming sessions, individual exercises, group activities, interactive discussions and energizers which kept the teachers active and engaged throughout the workshop. The participants were very satisfied with the training as most of their expectations were met and encouraging feedback was received from them.

Ghulam Jelani, Teachers’ Monitoring and Evaluation member, with 8 years experience with the education directorate in Afghanistan expressed,

“This is my first time attending such an effective training and as my responsibility is to monitor all teachers at school, I have to be clear on what I am monitoring and capacities the teachers must have. Attending this five-day training helped me learn a lot about morning meetings, lesson plan development, classroom environment, conducting observation sessions and providing feedback based on the observations.”

Parwin, a teacher at a Girls High School added,

“The training helped me improve my training and observation skills. The best part about this training was that we conducted a school visit and monitored teaching process of other teachers. During this visit, we observed other teachers and pointed out their strengths and weakness in their methods and then provided them with feedback on how to improve their gaps”.

Deeba, 34, belongs to the province of Nangarhar, Afghanistan, where she teaches chemistry in Abubakr-e-Siddique Girls High School of Behsood district. With five daily classes and more than 200 students, she has a busy schedule. Married with two daughters and a son, Deeba’s journey as a woman, working outside the home, has not been easy. Even though she had the support of her family, Deeba says it is still an uphill battle for women to work.

“It is believed that women must stay at home and serve other family members,”

she says. She further explains that While there are many opportunities for men to help enhance their capacities, women are restricted by cultural barriers, financial dependency and early marriages and very few are actually able to enter the workforce.

Deeba would often struggle to explain some concepts to her students as she didn’t have access to a lab and they did not hold any other practical experiments along with lectures. A great opportunity for her came in the form of the Chemistry Subject Based Training conducted under Girls Education Project (GEP) funded by JPF in Behsood district of Nangarhar province. The training gave her an understanding of specific teaching methodologies for Chemistry. She also learnt different kinds of experiments that she now uses in her classes.

“I was afraid of the questions from the students before and would always try to keep students busy in lectures and solving problems on the board. Now, I encourage them to ask questions until they completely understand the lesson. I can feel the respect for myself in my students’ eyes,” adds Deeba.

Madina, 17, belongs to Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. A student of grade 11, she studies in Sayedan-e-Arabi Girls High school located in Surkhroad District. The first girl of her family to be enrolled in school, Madina has had to fight the mindset that girls who engage in social and political activities have a questionable character.

“It was believed that education is not good for girls and that they should not attend any gatherings where men are present; nowadays it is much better as parents are now in favour of education for girls.”

She further adds that cultural barriers faced by women such as insecurity, early marriages and forced marriages, become obstacles to women’s development.
Madina found her perceptions change when she attended a Civic Education Camp (Summer camp) in a three-day training organized by Community World Service Asia Education Camp in Charbagh-e-Safa GHS.

“I learned about human rights, child rights, gender equality, leadership, democratic government and election processes, which encouraged me to think differently and to take part socially and politically in civil society as soon as I complete my education.”

Madina has been passing on her knowledge to her brothers, sisters as well as her parents. Even though it was a slow and difficult task, her parents have started to acknowledge that men and women have their own roles and responsibilities in society. Now I get really excited whenever my father says,

“Madina is one of the most intelligent girls in our family and I am proud of her.”