Tag Archives: ECD

Training of early childhood educators

In Afghanistan, pre-primary teacher training is provided by NGOs

Although pre-primary education in Afghanistan is part of the national education plan, there is still no formal training for teachers and government support for early childhood education remains rather limited. As a result, non-governmental organizations take over the training of hundreds of teachers each year and/or set up pre-primary education programs.

Among the NGOs active in the field, the Aga Khan Foundation has several years’ experience in early childhood development in Afghanistan and other parts of the world; it also supports the government of Afghanistan to develop early childhood development policy, preschool curriculum and textbooks. Through its global network, it has established its own early childhood development methods and trains hundreds of teachers every year. When Nai Qala’s early childhood education project was launched in 2017, the Aga Khan Foundation had provided training for two of the future female educators.

In the spring of 2018, Nai Qala extended its project to 7 new classes and recruited about 10 new teachers. The training of young women was entrusted to an “old” member of the project, Zewar, who organized a training seminar based on the pedagogical concepts acquired during her own training, and enriched by her experience. The teaching method for kindergarten classes is child-centered, uses group work and makes extensive use of flash cards: the small cards that every student has used at least once in his or her life when revising… For the youngest, a word is written on one side and represented by a drawing on the other. Zewar also follows up with new teachers once a week in their respective classes and invites them to observe the progress of her class from time to time. Teachers are aware that children’s interests and abilities vary considerably at the preschool level and that, as a result, individual and group activities are planned to meet children’s needs and promote the development of cognitive, language, social, emotional and physical skills. In preschool classes, opportunities for children’s creative exploration are balanced with teacher guidance during more structured teaching and learning activities.

In order to complete the pedagogical training of pre-school teachers, Nai Qala has also organized a first aid course for some educators, in partnership with the non-governmental organization JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service), in order for them to acquire the right reflexes, especially when caring for young children. Four young ladies went to Kabul to learn how to stop a hemorrhage, treat a burn, put on a splint or bandage. This course, designed and taught by a retired Swiss nurse, was very much appreciated and the young women who participated were given the task of transmitting the newly acquired knowledge not only to their colleagues who stayed at home, but also to the parents of their young students.

The Afghan National Strategic Education Plan 2017-2021 foresees a new specialized diploma in early childhood development and primary education; unfortunately, due to lack of resources, the curriculum is not yet in place today. However, such an objective is the recognition of the role that teachers with specialized teaching and development skills, and good understanding can have a positive impact on the dropout rate and ensure solid learning for children in the lower primary cycle. Until a formal teacher training program is in place, NGOs play an important role in transmitting pedagogical concepts and addressing cross-cutting issues such as health, the environment and gender equality.

teacher training workshop / séminaire de formation
teacher training workshop / séminaire de formation
teacher training workshop / séminaire de formation
First aid course / cours de premiers secours
First aid course / cours de premiers secours
First aid course / cours de premiers secours

Back-to-school season for 180 youngsters

While most children in the northern hemisphere are in the middle of their summer holidays, 180 young children aged 4 to 6 have started their first school year this July.

Preparation of equipment

Nai Qala’s president, Taiba Rahim, and the Kabul team have been very busy these past few weeks. Several hundred kilos of material were collected in Kabul to equip the classes.

Chairs, shelves, toy boxes, white boards but also carpets, all multiplied by 7, were sent to 7 villages in the mountainous regions of Ghazni (close to the schools of Sada, Ghow Murda and Nai Qala) .

In addition to furniture, large amounts of school supplies were also purchased and transported; these are, among others:

  • dozens of kilos of wooden blocks made especially by local carpenters;
  • various toys, construction games, toy cars, dinner play sets, balls and much more;
  • paper, cardboard, colored pencils, paint;
  • basic hygienic material such as soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Nai Qala’s team, represented by Mr. Qeyam and Mr. Ali Reza were involved at 200% in setting up the classrooms, not only in Kabul where they carefully organized all the logistics and where they ensured that the purchased equipment was properly packaged to withstand the surprises of transportation, sometimes on very bumpy roads, but also in the field. Mr. Qeyam spent a full month in the villages to make sure that all the material had arrived and was properly distributed, and that each class was correctly set up. Each village is separated by a distance of 20 minutes to 1 hour by car; to connect the first to the last village, it takes 4 hours.

Accelerated training for teachers

After a recruitment process to which 55 candidates applied, the Kabul team selected 9 young women. These are girls graduated from the first 3 schools built by Nai Qala, often single or sometimes already married, and who have a university (or other) degree. As employment opportunities in these remote areas are minimal, the creation of early childhood education classes opens up new opportunities for work.

Ms. Zewar, one of the two teachers of the early childhood education classes opened in 2017, took the responsibility to organize a 3-day workshop and give some new pedagogical bases to the new recruits. Ms. Zewar herself benefited from a one-week workshop, followed by another on the job, before teaching the little ones. For young women, the workshop was the first experience of its kind.

In addition to the 3-day workshop, Ms. Zewar will coach, on a day to day basis, the new teachers in their respective classes. She will travel to each village, accompanied by an experienced driver, to encourage, guide and support each of the teachers in their new experience.

During the training workshop, the young women discovered some teaching materials but were also able to familiarize themselves with games and various toys. This training was also an opportunity to experiment for the first time toys, which they had not access to when they were young. A moving discovery!

Involvement of the local community

The involvement of the local community is essential to the project. Each community has made available the best room in the village to create appropriate learning conditions. In some cases, if the rugs brought by Nai Qala did not cover all the floors, the villagers provided the carpet to cover the missing parts. The community is very committed to installing the equipment, participating in its unloading and unpacking.

Each village eagerly awaited the arrival of Mr. Qeyam; the whole community of men, women and children gathered together, ready to help with the transportation of equipment, place the information sign at the roadside or arrange the classroom.

What is not visible

Setting up a project of this magnitude requires months of preparation. This represents indeed many visits to the central and provincial ministries, and hours of negotiations with the villagers that were necessary to ensure the sustainability of the project. An agreement has been signed with the government to ensure monitoring beyond the first 3 years of the project; agreements with each local community have been concluded to ensure the availability of the premises where the courses will be held.

Each organization operating in the field of education must involve the Ministry of Education since it is the gatekeeper of the national education plan. As a result, the government will monitor the progress of the project and make constructive suggestions. The Ministry of Education, through its provincial-level leadership, has committed to follow-up to ensure that the project works properly and is community based, and will manage the early childhood education classes in terms of human resources, after 2020.

Back to school

In total, 180 children participated in starting their first school year. The Nai Qala Early Childhood Education project concerns 9 classes in 9 villages: 7 new classes added to the 2 classes already initiated at the start of summer 2017.

The little ones, between 4 and 6 years old, will not only learn to read and write but also expand their imagination and develop through play and artistic activities. The early childhood education class is also an opportunity for these young children to socialize and learn some good manners and basic hygiene.

After a few days of classes, the feedback is already very positive. Parents say they have no problem waking their children early in the morning, which was not necessarily the case before the start of the school year. The inhabitants of the 9 villages are very happy and make sure that the program is going well. The teachers are super motivated and the joy is shown on the faces of the children.

To learn more about Nai Qala and early childhood education, it’s here.

Delivery of material / Livraison du matériel
Workshop for teacher / Atelier pour les enseignantes
1st school day / 1er jour d'école

Mothers love the early childhood program

Mothers are enthusiastic about the early childhood education program

Mothers whose sons and daughters attend the early childhood program are impressed by the progress of their children and are very grateful to the Nai Qala Association for providing such a class. Four of them shared their testimonials:

Setayesh (6 years old) and Elena’s (5 years old) mother: “My daughters learnt how to read and sing, greet people and to be polite. They learnt and then explained  the five senses to the family. I never thought about this … and found it very interesting. Every day when my children come home and share their new knowledge with me, it fills my heart with a happiness and joy that I have never felt before. My children are different from the other children. If Nai Qala Association were to experience financial difficulties one day, we would contribute to the class to help maintain such an important program for our children. We will do anything for our daughters!”. 

Saraj ‘s (4 years old) mother“My son is very careful about his clothes and tries to play in a safe environment. Before these classes, he used to play in the dust and in dirty places, but now it’s totally different. Playing in a clean place became part of his dignity and discipline. He greets and shows respect for everybody. Within just four months, he has become another boy. He learned things that I could never think of how to tell them to my child. Now I know how it’s done and how to talk with my child.  I am very grateful that Nai Qala provides us with such an important program. I hope the Nai Qala Association will continue such a program. If not, we will continue this program by ourselves”.

Marina’s (5 years old) mother“My daughter comes home,  shares and sings all the songs she learned in the class. It brings so much happiness to our home.  Marina behaves totally different at home, her way of talking, eating, listening, greeting… The notebook that has been given to her in the class, is a big motivation for her. She reads and write without stopping. When I see Marina, I regret we did not have such an opportunity when I was her age… I hope Marina learns well and will have a good future.  The songs of my daughter give me such an inspiration that I wish there should be such a class for mothers too”.

Razeya, mother of 2 young children: “I am very happy to come to the class where my 2 children go every day. I cannot believe it when I see my 4 years old girl and 3 years old boy read and write already at such  a young age. I am impressed to see them playing in such a positive and clean environment with other children. I see how they are learning, playing together and developing their personalities. Since my children attend this early childhood class, they are very different. They say hello to everybody, wash their hands regularly, especially before and after eating”. 

Winter break for preschoolers

After 6 months of activity, both early childhood education classes are enjoying a well-deserved winter break. Temperatures in the region of Nai Qala are well below zero degrees and snow has appeared.During the past semester, children of Nai Qala have made remarkable progress. They have not only learned how to recognize and write the letters of the Dari (Farsi) alphabet, and to count until 50 but they have developed new social skills through playing and doing artistic activities.

Thanks to this pilot project, 36 girls and boys listened to stories, drew, painted, and developed their imagination. All together, they participated in games that boosted their self-confidence and stimulated the development of their personality.

The children of Nai Qala have enjoyed the new class of early childhood education. They have been encouraged, felt inspired, realized their dreams and can now apprehend the future more serenely.

Creating job opportunities

Nai Qala early childhood education program provides young local people with job opportunities 

Zewar graduated from the school in Nai Qala in 2012 and she studied at the university for four years. Now she is back in her village and she’s leading the early childhood education program for youngsters. Zewar is proud of her role and speaks with love and patience. She received special training in early childhood education with the support of Agha Khan Foundation in Kabul.

Zewar understands the importance of the early childhood education program to the children of her region. She and her colleague, who also went to university thanks to the education received in a Nai Qala school, know that children need more than just reading and writing.

Learning is fun

The early childhood education program stimulates boys and girls to play together

One of the most important objectives of early childhood education program is that from a very early age, all children – boys and girls – learn how to play together as a normal habit. Playing together develop their imagination  and allow them to inspire each other.

The early childhood education program is designed to provide an expanded range of experiences for young children helping them to develop skills and form attitudes that will enable them to make good use of learning opportunities both within the class and later formal education.

The little boy seems to think he could get some inspiration from the castle built by his young colleague …

ECD simple hygiene measures

Early Childhood Education program includes basic hygiene measures

During the early childhood education class, children learn how to wash their hands before going to class or before eating. Children are effective communicators and agents of change: they learn the habits of good hygiene at school and pass them on home and in the community. For children, this direct involvement in the promotion of hygiene inculcates a sense of personal capacity building.

According to Unicef, every day about 4,000 children under five die of diarrheal diseases worldwide. Washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective and cheapest ways to prevent these deaths. Washing hands reduces the number of deaths associated with diarrhea by more than 40% and acute respiratory illness by around 25%.

Promoting good hygiene and health habits early in life can lead to lifelong hygiene behaviors.

ECD classes have started


New engagement, new horizon of hope:  Early Childhood Development Education (pre-school education).

Over the past 10 years, the Nai Qala Association (NQA) has built schools in regions where children had never even seen a school building. We believe in strengthening their dignity by ensuring that children learn in proper conditions.

Now we are adding a new dimension to our engagement: we are now providing Early Childhood Development (ECD) classes to improve the quality of education for young children aged 5-6 years in the regions where we have built schools.

Dignity through quality learning facilities and quality education is the way forward in rural Afghanistan which accounts for more than 80% of the country’s population.

The ECD program helps children to develop their imagination, talents and confidence at a very young age.

2 pilot ECD classes have started in July