Training, supplies and better WASH facilities: recipe for an improved learning experience
UNICEF works on training teachers and school personnel on new teaching methods & rehabilitating water and sanitation facilities in schools around the country for a better learning environment.
“It was difficult for students to learn the alphabet letters in the first grade and we noticed that many people in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades could not read”. This is the situation that Malkah Amr Saeed, an Arabic reading curriculum teacher at Raydan Girls' School, Aden, Yemen, describes before the start of the Access to Quality Education and WASH in Schools project.
Supported by the Government of Japan, it included three parts: training teachers and school personnel on new teaching methods; providing school supplies and material; and rehabilitating water and sanitation facilities in schools around the country for a better learning environment.
Teachers and school personnel alike agree that their perspective on teaching has changed since they attended training. “In the training course, we learned how to teach students in an entertaining way. I changed the way I teach reading; students used to feel that it was difficult for them to learn the alphabet letters in the first grade, so now we teach sounds instead”, Malkah explains. Learning now involves lots of games and putting letters into words, so students love this subject and understand it. And judging by their happy faces, this has made her subject popular among children.
“Students used to sit in the classroom, memorize the lesson and write it. The traditional studies were of no use, so the process of training teachers and school administration for psychosocial support was a helpful factor for the educational process, especially after the conflict started,” Rajaa Qahtan Mohammed, the school principal explains. She adds that the benefits of psychosocial support to girls in particular extend to the whole family and society. “I have 1,100 students and every female student is responsible at home, not just in school. When students feel good and comfortable with the method of education, this affects their home, family and society”, she says.
New equipment for a fresh start
Under the project, Raydan School received high quality furniture, helping students practice physical distancing during classes in times of COVID-19. Other school supplies included new schoolbags and notebooks, along with masks, soap, hand sanitizer and water filters.
“The bathrooms were previously dirty and neglected, now they are clean and the broken water faucets have been changed”
“The bathrooms were previously dirty and neglected, now they are clean and the broken water faucets have been changed”, Ruba Waheed Ahmed Moqbel Seif Al-Basisi, a 9-grader at Raydan School says. “Tables have been changed for students, now they are comfortable, and the number of garbage bins has increased in order to keep the school clean. And we are very keen on keeping the school clean!”, she laughs. “Washing hands, wearing a mask, and maintaining social distance… a big shift has happened in my life before and after. I love my school and its cleanliness because it is my second home”, she concludes.
One week made a long-lasting difference
After changes were implemented following training, attendance rates went up consistently. “There is a big difference in students' attendance. Now teachers and the school administration accompany their students. Sitting together and solving their problems has made the school attractive to children, staff and parents”, the principal notices. “I know it was a one-week course, but it was beneficial to students, teachers and parents”, she adds.
“There is a major difference in students’ attendance, now they keep coming in order to learn and play”, confirms teacher Malkah with a smile.