Improving Female Teacher Skills and Participation to enhance girls access to quality education

through Refugee teacher upgrading programme in Gambella.

By Christine Wanjala
20 February 2020

Nyawich Kier, 22, graduated on 21 September 2019 after attending a two year certificate teacher training programme funded by Education Cannot Wait (ECW) at Gambella College of Teachers Education. Nyawich is a teacher at Jewi Primary School 1, the first and the only female teacher to have completed the teacher upgrading programme.

Originally from South Sudan, Nyawich sought refuge in Ethiopia in 2013 after fleeing war and conflict in South Sudan. She was resettled in Jewi Refugee Camp. She comes from a community where girls are married young and child marriage is rife. By her culture's standards, it was abnomal for her to remain unmarried and without children at her age. But Nyawich had to overcome all odds to achieve her dream of becoming a qualified teacher. She says it was her personal decision to postpone marriage and having children in order to pursue tertiary education. In 2017, Nyawich was recruited by the Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Retunee Affairs (ARRA) to be an incentive teacher at the school.

Upon the rollout of the UNICEF-supported refugee teacher upgrading programme in 2018, managed by the Regional Education Bureau (REB) and ARRA, Nyawich was nominated by her school director to join the Gambella College of Teacher Education. “I have been on this programme for two consecutive summers (2018 and 2019) and one school-based distance education programme during the working year. Before this training, whenever I went to school to teach, I felt less confident and thought I was not
qualified enough, although I had a big interest and passion for supporting children and helping them to learn. Now that I have received this training - I am so happy to graduate by the way - it has equipped me with the necessary teaching skills, knowledge, and attitude, and I am sure I will be a better teacher.”

She added, "When I go back to my country, I will use the knowledge I have acquired to assist children to learn. Maybe this will help to heal our country from conflict."

Following the training, Nyawich has seen a notable improvement in her confidence and sense of professionalism. Her commitment to the children's learning is noteworthy. During visits to the school, she can be seen preparing lesson plans, lesson notes and children's progress reports. The school director attests to the changes in Nyawich's classroom management skills, improved use of teaching resources, and her close attention to children, especially girls, where she doubles up as the Gender Club Matron. "She is doing well and I know this will even get better with the College of Teachers' Education follow-up coaching and mentoring and REB technical supervisory support," says the director. Nyawich is still ambitious to upgrade to diploma level and enhance her teaching professional skills. She is already on the waiting list to attend the upcoming diploma programme.