Supporting quality education
by Cristina Brugiolo
UNICEF has been helping the government for improving schooling for children in DPR Korea for many years. In particular, UNICEF efforts in the past focused on improving the conditions in the class rooms – putting in double glazed windows to insulate them in the freezing winter, or providing good furniture in the class rooms. More recently the support focused on improving the way in which teaching and learning takes place in school.
How well children learn highly depends on how well they are taught by their teachers. Every three years teachers in Korea go to a Teachers Training Centre (TTC) to improve their skills for a month.
Mr. Choe Jin Hyok, 48 years old, married and father of one daughter, is the director of the TTC located in the Jongpyong County of the South Hamyong province. Mr. Choe started work as a secondary school teacher. He rose to become a school inspector and since November 2006, he is the director of the TTC in Jongpyong.
As the director, Mr. Choe is responsible to improve the skills of all the teachers in his county so that they reach a minimum standard. He believes that by training teachers, he is helping the students: this motivates him very much in his efforts to see that the TTC offers the best possible training.
Presently, the building of the teachers centre is old and there is not enough space for all the teachers who come there. To make matters worse, in August 2007, a big flood hit almost the whole of the country. Jongpyong experienced non stop rains for nearly a week. Many homes, schools and hospitals were badly damaged.
Mr. Choe was stunned to see the fate of the TTC. He feared that the huge loss of the school’s books, furniture and teaching material could never be replaced. But help came quickly. The government promised to construct a new building. Many other organizations, including UNICEF came forward to help. Mr Choe was overwhelmed with relief. “With all the help we received, I felt that the county is not lost and that people still care for us”, he said.
Mr. Choe and all the teachers in Jongpyong are all set to move to their new building by the beginning of next year. UNICEF is providing tools and construction materials for the new building. Additionally, UNICEF is also bringing in furniture as well as the entire equipment for a fully adequate library, including 902 books and a computer.
Teachers all over the county are happy about the new TTC that is getting ready. A beaming Mr. Choe says that with the new TTC building and a brand new library with audio visual equipments and materials that UNICEF is bringing in, the teachers