FEATURE STORY

Well-equipped Schools Boost Students’ Learning in Afghanistan

February 5, 2015

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15 year-old Elaha and her classmates diligently study at the sparkling new library in the Herat Experimental Girls' School.

Rumi Consultancy

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Students in Herat Province are enjoying the use of resources such as libraries and computer labs that make lessons more stimulating and help them learn more quickly.
  • These resources have been made possible through Quality Enhancement Grants under the Education Quality Improvement Program, which aims to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls.
  • The program is implemented by the Ministry of Education and supported by the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund.

HERAT CITY, Herat Province – Around 20 little girls are sitting on a carpet making different handmade objects as a young woman continuously guides them through their work. They are in a room, surrounded by shelves holding dozens of paper drawings and a variety of paper and plastic handmade objects. A corner of the room also houses a small library containing mainly children’s storybooks.

Six-year-old Parisa is busy making a paper cake in the class. She says she enjoys coming to this class. “I like this place. I also like math. We get to practice math here as well using these objects.”

This is a classroom in Herat Experimental Girls’ School located in Heart city. It is one of the most popular schools in Herat, which has won several awards. The classroom is one of the best-equipped parts of the school, utilized by students from grades 1 to 6.

Teacher Aalia Osmani, 24, uses different approaches to teach her students, and finds the tools in the classroom helpful. “Suppose their lesson is about a ladder. It is sufficient that I show them what a ladder looks like here and they will get it because they are still so young and rely heavily on their vision compared to other senses,” she explains. “They also learn addition and subtraction here by adding or subtracting the toys. Similarly, they can also practice other subjects here.”


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Students learn about science first hand through practical lessons at their lab class at the Inqelab-e-Islami High School.


" “The library and computer laboratory are so handy for a quicker access to information and greater progress in our lessons.”  "

15 year-old Elana

Student, Heart Experimental Girls' School

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With the new resources and materials, teachers are able to use different approaches to teach students and help them retain what they learn. 

Rumi Consultancy

Grants raise quality of basic education

Herat Experimental Girls’ School has been able to offer these resources to their students with the assistance of Quality Enhancement Grants (QEGs) from the Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP). It is one of 540 schools in Herat Province that have benefited from QEGs since 2007. The school has received some US$50,000 in grants since then.

EQUIP is implemented by the Ministry of Education and supported by the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. EQUIP’s objective is to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls, through school grants, teacher training, and strengthened institutional capacity with support from communities and private providers.

To date, based on school improvements plans, QEGs have been distributed to schools that use them for purchase of school supplies, laboratory equipment, and other materials that help strengthen the learning environment. So far, a total of 16,587 schools across Afghanistan have received QEGs (of which 5,045 received a total amount of US$14.3 million as a first generation grant and 11,542 schools received a total amount of US$22.9 million).

Parents sustain projects

The biggest achievement of the program, however, is the sustainability of the projects supported by the grants. “The grant mobilized the people and prepared them to help us keep the program running; when this project is over, the parents will assume the role of the funders of this project, thereby ensuring sustainability,” says Abdul Qadeer Salehi, the manager of the program in Herat City.

Herat Experimental Girls’ School is a good example of this achievement. “In 2012, we received a US$40,000 grant from QEGs to build a two-storey building for the school,” says Basira Basiratkhwah, the school’s principal. “The funds we received were only sufficient for constructing the first floor of the building while students’ parents pledged to contribute to the construction of the second and third floors.”

The grants have allowed for a tremendous increase in the level of knowledge and awareness amongst students according to Basira, adding that alongside other resources, they have access to computers and Internet too. There are 20 computers with Internet connections at the computer laboratory and 1,000 books in the library. These resources are used by 3,600 students in three shifts.

“The library and computer lab are so handy for quicker access to information and greater progress in our lessons. In the past we had to go to government libraries or Internet cafes in search of information, which would waste our time immensely,” says Elaha, 15, a student at this school.

Another school that has greatly benefited from QEGs is Inqelab-e-Islami High School, another popular school in Herat Province. A significant part of the grant went to the building of the 32-room school at the cost of US$225,000. An additional US$8,000 has also been spent on development of a laboratory and a library, and provision of advanced teaching materials for the school.  

“The Inqelab-e-Islami school desperately needed all of this. Whatever we have today is thanks to QEGs,” says Naseer Ahmad Ferotan, the school’s principal.


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