Zikla writes - for herself, and for her future
Zikla Omar Ismael likes to write. She is only 6 years old and in Grade 1, but has already learned to read and write. Holding her new pen, Zikla proudly states that she does not think it took her a long time to learn. Her teacher smiles in agreement.
The teachers at Ngungunhane School in Chibuto district, Gaza province, are very proud of their students' reading and writing skills. By their account, the improving results in their school are due to the teacher training they received through the Child-Friendly Schools initiative.
"Before, we used to come across children in Grade 3 who did not know how to read or write. Today, even by Grade 2 our students do not face this challenge," says Nausone Moiane, Vice- Principal at the school. "In our teacher training we learned new methodologies and approaches, and that training helped us achieve a significant improvement in the level of our children's learning." Another aspect that Mr. Moiane wants to highlight is the school's receipt of new desks. "The children can now sit comfortably, and in an orderly manner, while learning how to write. This is a great improvement from sitting on a dirt floor and trying to balance a notebook on your lap," he explains.
The teachers in the room agree; the school desks have been a very important contribution. However, in a country where the majority of the population still lives on less than US$1 a day, not even the basics of writing can be taken for granted. A pen and a ruled notebook are things that some parents simply cannot afford for their children. The school kit that all Grade 1 students in Chibuto received has thus also been very helpful. Zikla received her kit three months ago, and she holds firmly to the red bag as she speaks. It contains basic education supplies, to help children in their first years at school; some children take such good care of their bags that they manage to keep them all through primary school.
"I like the pen the most," Zikla says. "I can use it to write my name, and other things. It was not difficult at all to learn how to write! My teacher taught me; I like her."
Just before running off to play with her friends, Zikla declares she has not yet decided what she wants to do when she grows up. What she does know is that she does not want to stay at home, but rather to go to work. Mr. Moiane and the teachers of Ngungunhane School have come to realize how important it is to nurture children's learning from an early age.