Tag Archives: education

Girls’ education, a change of mindset

Promoting girls’ education and cultural changes through a capacity building program

Improving the quality of education provided in the schools Nai Qala has built. 

Overall, the quality of education in Afghanistan in particular in the rural areas is very low. To remedy this, the Nai Qala Association is not only providing school buildings in those isolated regions but also several tutoring classes in sciences, and preparation courses to the national test for university entrance. Without such classes, many girls would not have taken the exam, as parents do not have the means and motivation to send them to towns to get private lessons.

The role of Nai Qala’s teacher training in capacity building is much more than transferring scientific knowledge.
Inspired by her experience with western school systems that promote regular communication between teachers and parents, Nai Qala’s president motivated the teacher-trainers to establish such a culture. Trainers meet parents to encourage them to be supportive at home with their children. In remote rural regions, many parents are illiterate and cannot help children with their homework but can support them by giving them space and believing in them.

The trainers are very aware of the importance of the role of parents in children’s education and have realized that such support was missing in their time at school. Nai Qala’s teacher-trainers even go to visit parents of those students who do not participate during class; they walk for a few hours to find an almost isolated house, in the mountains, with a tiny piece of land and a few heads of cattle. When parents first see the teachers they are a bit afraid, wondering what they want from them and why they are coming to their house. However when the teachers introduce themselves and explain that it is part of their role to meet the parents, not only because their child comes to the capacity building class but also to congratulate the parents for sending them to the course, many parents cannot believe what they hear and get emotional. Amazingly, the teachers very often see a different attitude in their student in the next days. This girl or boy comes earlier to school and interacts more, now being aware that their teachers give them importance.

Teachers take initiatives to triggers girls involvement at school.
Teachers discuss among themselves the participation and involvement of students in the class. They, for example, decided to split into different classes two sisters who were too passive during the courses and encouraged the other girls in the classes to support the sisters. The girls cried and suffered a lot from the separation for a few days but then became the most talented students in the school after a few months.

A change in the mindset of teachers on girls’ education.
Nai Qala’s teacher-trainers themselves come from remote rural regions of central Afghanistan, originating from poor and traditional communities. “When I was in school, I studied in a mixed class, with girls. I always had one point in my mind: why should girls come to school? They are not made for school, what for?” remembered Jawad, a 26 year old, Nai Qala teacher-trainer. The job description of the teacher-trainers puts a special emphasis on girls’ education. Teachers have not only received training on human and women’s right but have also been coached by Nai Qala staff on how to encourage girls and their parents. Jawad recounted how once he saw a girl answering a very complex math problem in front of the class, his perception about girls was changed forever: “She started to write and competently solved the problem. In that minute, I went deep in thought and questioned myself: why was I so negative about girls? Is it the society that influenced me? Many questions came to my mind and on that night I could not sleep well… After that day, I became so determined that I must help girls. This is now my third year that I teach girls and help them in scientific subjects, together with my colleagues. Up to now, I have been helping about 1000 girls between the ages of 12 to 18. I never imagined I’d be able to do my job with such motivation. It is never too late to realize that girls have the same talents and deserve the same rights as boys. I am grateful to Nai Qala for helping me to realize this important point”.

With Nai Qala’s support, hundreds of girls are on their way to university. In one of the least developed rural regions of Afghanistan, this represents an extraordinary change and brings hope. The capacity building program is a tremendous platform that allows gradual cultural changes to be brought to the remote regions and promote girls’ education.

Thanks to Nai-Qala, girls can benefit from capacity-building course during the winter

For the duration of the winter capacity building course, some girls are living in host families’homes. 

In mid-December, Nai Qala teacher-trainers travelled to the village of Zeera Gag, where the Nai Qala Association built a school in 2015, to launch a new course of capacity building.

Nai Qala had already run this program in the village of Zeera Gag last winter, during the school holidays. It was meant for over 200 girls. But gradually the numbers of girls reduced every week; indeed,  many girls were living in the remote villages where there are high risks of snow avalanche and tough weather condition. All the girls who could not attend the course were very sad.

This summer, many determined parents who shared their daughters’ disappointment, approached families who live near the school of Zeera Gag. Many families agreed to have a girl live with them for a period of 3 months, the duration of the capacity building course. In return, these parents have agreed to give host families some wheat or cheese.

Just in the last few weeks before the start of the course, over 10 girls between age 16 and 18 were already living in their new houses, impatiently waiting for the Nai Qala teachers to arrive, and to benefit from the course.

For this year, the course is planned for 160 girls.

To know more on the capacity building project, click here.

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”. 

The impact of tutoring classes

The capacity building course creates new perspectives for students in remote villages and allows parents to make substantial savings.

Aqela, 12th grade in Nai Qala School shares her opinion on the capacity building course:

I was very stressed about how to strengthen my scientific subjects to get ready for the admission exam for university; will I be able to attend the exam? I asked my parents if they could support me to go to a bigger town to get some additional study. But my parents could not support me financially.

By spring, I heard that NQA is providing such a course in our village. It was hard to believe. I had the feeling that I am flying. Yet this truly happened. The course took place and since then my life has filled with hope and determination! I have tried to attend every single class this semester. The feeling of responsibility is rising inside me: I must take this chance and succeed. 

My dream is to work in the health sector to help my village and community. Health is one of the biggest problems and a huge challenge.”

In 2016, tutoring was provided in the village of Nai Qala to over 100 students in preparation for university entrance. The original goal was to tutor 46 girls and 34 boys, but more students became interested and benefitted from the project.

The training course has helped the community to save about USD 20’000 (which is the amount that would have been spent if all the children had been sent to a town for such a course, corresponding to USD 200 for each child).

A better standard of education means that more of our rural children, including girls, will have the chance to go to university.

In 2017, over 182 teenagers (120 girls and 62 boys) attended the tutoring class.

To know more on the capacity building and tutoring classes project, click here.

Be a source of inspiration

Former students from Nai Qala schools are now teacher trainers and a source of inspiration for current students

To start the teacher training project in 2016, we hired three university graduates with teaching skills. Remarkably, two of the teachers graduated from a Nai Qala school few years ago.

After completing their university studies, they are now prepared to work to serve their community. The fact that they attended a Nai Qala school was one criterion for selecting them: they return to serve their people, which in turn is a source of inspiration for other students in the village.

The project has also given some local people with qualifications an opportunity to stay in their region rather than seek work elsewhere. This can be an inspiration to other villagers.

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.

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 …

Work in progress in Sokhtagi

To see the progress in construction of Sokhtagi school, Nai Qala’s President attended a site meeting in October. She was able to see that construction work was progressing on time and according to plan. The walls are out of the ground and growing.

Enabling entrance to university (2)

After the successful capacity-building project at Zeera Gag, Nai Qala has carried out its tutoring program in the village of Tagab Barg.

Tagab Barg school is having a positive impact on lives in the village. It is a reward for the community which continues to be supportive of their girls’ education.

The first step of Nai Qala’s objective for Tagab Barg – to provide over 600 girls with basic education in a proper environment – has been achieved but Nai Qala needed to provide additional support with enhanced education to help these students develop their skills and find job opportunities. In practical terms, we returned to Tagab Barg school with a dedicated set of tuition courses to help students obtain higher marks and prepare for the Kankor university entrance examination. Over 182 teenagers (120 girls and 62 boys) registered for the course.

Amena is 16 years old and is in 12th grade at Tagab Barg school. Here she holds the course material she has received from NQA for the preparation course for the national university entrance examination. Amena told us:

“I am coming from one of the villages in the Tagab Barg’s region. From my family, 4 of us are coming to school, 2 sisters and 2 brothers. We are very much encouraged by our parents and community. I am very excited to attend such a course to allow me progress further in my education. My dream is to become journalist. I believe that through communication and awareness I can help my community who lives in isolation. … Through the media I can keep my community aware of what is going on beyond our isolated village, and at the same time I can bring the voice of my people to the world to tell everyone that we exist and we have dreams and ambition”.

Enabling entrance to university

Enabling young people in rural areas to take Afghanistan’s national university entrance examination

Astonishingly, the village of Zeera Gag did not even have a school building two years ago. Children and teenagers had to study outside in all weathers until Nai Qala built them a school in 2015. Now, not only can they study in decent conditions but they even have the unprecedented opportunity to apply to go to university. As of January 2017, Nai Qala provided a course of supplementary lessons for the older students – both young men and young women – to prepare them for the Kankor (university entrance) examination. When the course was announced, 160 of Zeera Gag’s older students asked to join it.

A ceremony in the village marked the end of the Kankor preparation course. As of early May, 24 students (13 young women and 11 young men) had enrolled to take the Kankor examination. Not all the students on this year’s course will succeed in obtaining a place at a university, but it is hoped that some of them will. Before Nai Qala arrived in Zeera Gag a few years ago, no young people took the examination in any case, so all the students are proud – and their community is proud of them – that they were good enough to complete a course focused on university entrance. This alone gives them an advantage in finding promising occupations in their region.

For those who will attend university, their prospects for employment in their home areas are good. When state agencies or NGOs want to carry out important programs in these areas, it is hard to find a qualified doctor, engineer, agronomist, teacher, vet’ – or other professions – from these regions. Educated young people can strengthen their communities, their provinces, and their country too.