How we helped Doa overcome learning loss?
Often bullied by other children, Doa was feeling increasingly worse, "She used to come home everyday weeping and didn't want to go to school"
'They always told me I was a failure and bullied me, and no one wanted to play with me,' says Doa, with a sad smile. Doa is a smart nine-year-old who lives in the Gaza Strip. She suffered from learning loss and was unable to keep up with her peers in class. She got behind and is only in third grade after school interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 escalation in the Gaza Strip.
Often bullied by other children, Doa was feeling increasingly worse. 'She used to come home everyday weeping and didn't want to go to school,' says Doa's mother, Nora. Doa started hating school as it is often the case for children with learning challenges.
"I wish I could teach her, but I married at a young age and did not finish my education. Every day I blame myself because I am the reason, she is weak in learning," says Doa’s mother, Nora, who was married at a young age.”
Here is where assistant teacher comes in. UNICEF’s remedial education programme which is funded by EU Humanitarian Aid focuses on children whose academic performance has suffered from learning loss due to COVID-19 and the escalation of violence. Nearly 200 assistant teachers were supported by UNICEF to provide extra classes to more than 9,200 students to close the learning gap.
The assistant teachers concentrate on the children in need during class, support the core teacher and make sure the students remain focused and engaged during the lesson. They give additional classes outside the classroom and use different methods of teaching such as active learning as well as games and fun activities to focus students’ attention on the basic subjects of Arabic and Mathematics.
“I really like to come to the class because we play a lot and laugh during the class,” says Doa. These remedial classes helped Doa, as she caught up to the level of other students. She started distinguishing the shapes of letters, reading and writing them to eventually form complete sentences.
"I have a lot of friends, and everyone loves to play with me now,” Doa explains. The remedial education helped her in terms of knowledge and skills but also built her self-confidence. "She became happier every day, she gathers the girls while playing and makes herself a teacher and teaches them how to write on the board," says Doa’s mother.
Doa is now ready to start fourth grade. With all the skills she has gained, she will be able to quickly progress with the other children, as is common for most remedial education students.
"Thank you, teacher, Fadwa," Doa says, drawing a heart on the board and writing both the initials of her and Fadwa's name. Fadwa is the remedial education teacher who helped Doa improve her educational level.
This programme, supported by EU Humanitarian Aid and UNICEF, aims to respond to the educational needs of the most vulnerable children, mitigate learning loss, provide catch-up learning opportunities for children's numeracy skills, and reduce their risk of dropping out in the long run.