FEATURE STORY February 18, 2018

In Afghanistan, New Schools Provide Better Learning Opportunities

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The development objectives of EQUIP's follow-on project EQRA are: to increase equitable access to primary and secondary education in selected lagged behind provinces, especially for girls, to improve learning conditions and transparency in the Ministry of Education’s resource management.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Students across Panjshir Province can now learn better in new schools equipped with improved study materials and facilities.
  • The new and improved schools were supported through the Education Quality Improvement Program, which aimed to increase access to quality basic education, especially for girls.
  • Schools have upgraded their libraries, science and computer labs to help students learn new skills and expand their knowledge.

BAZARAK, Panjshir Province – The pupils look on intently as the teacher writes on the blackboard. No chattering or fidgeting can be heard as the teacher breaks down the lesson, explaining each part thoroughly. In the final minutes of the class, the teacher asks the students to explain the main idea of the lesson.

“I can explain it,” says Nasrin eagerly, one of the students sitting in the middle row. The history class is filled with teenage girls who listen attentively to Nasrin, a 15-year-old 9th grader at BiBi Amina Girls High School. When she finishes the explanation, the school bell rings and marks the end of school. Outside the colorful concrete school building, a group of children are crossing the bridge on their way home from school.

“I have been coming to Bibi Amina School from first grade,” says Nasrin.

BiBi Amina Girls High School was established in 1997 in the Sata Marz village of Bazarak district as a small religious school. At the time, the school did not have a proper building, library, laboratory, or other equipment. Rokhshana, 42, the head teacher, says they had many challenges. “Students did not know what a hands-on, practical lesson was,” she says as an example. Today, Bibi Amina Girls High School has 18 teachers and more than 550 students.


"I have seen lots of improvement at the school. The teaching methods have developed and we have more learning materials."
Nasrin
student, BiBi Amina Girls High School, Panjshir Province


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Improved teaching methods and resources in BiBi Amina Girls High school are the result of the Education Quality Improvement Program’s supports which sought to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls. The program closed in December 2017.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


Support from the Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP), operating under the Ministry of Education (MoE), gave the school the opportunity to equip its facilities in 2014. The school received a Quality Enhancement Grant of 800,000 afghanis (about $11,700), which allowed it to buy materials, like books, test tubes, chemical materials, and computers, and equip the library and science and computer laboratories, in addition to painting the school walls with educational charts.  “Now our students have hands-on practice in the laboratory and can use the reference books in the library,” says Rokhshana.

The program, which closed on December 31, 2017, sought to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls. It was implemented by the Ministry of Education and was first funded by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries. The Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) took over funding as co-financier of the program.

The development objectives of EQRA are: to increase equitable access to primary and secondary education in selected lagged behind provinces, especially for girls, to improve learning conditions and transparency in the Ministry of Education’s resource management.


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In Panjshir Province, the Education Quality Improvement Program supported 129 schools including constructions of 30 school buildings and distribution of Quality Enhancement Grants to about 120 schools to improve the quality of education. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
 

Increased Literacy Rate

EQUIP started its work in Panjshir in 2008 and covered 129 schools in the province. The project has constructed 30 school buildings.

In addition, EQUIP has distributed Quality Enhancement Grants (QEGs) to 120 schools to enable them to equip libraries and science and computer laboratories to improve the quality of education. “Although we cannot measure the quality of education in Panjshir Province, the rate of literacy has increased in the province and we have equal participation of girls and boys in schools,” says Tawakal Rahmani, the EQUIP officer in Panjshir Province. 

Bibi Amina School is among the schools that received a QEG of over 160,000 afghanis (about $2,300). The grant was used to increase teaching resources, like books and laboratory materials. “When we do practical work in the laboratory, it helps us to fully understand the subject and it enables us to have better scores in examinations,” says Krishma, 18, a 12th grader.

Krishma dreams of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in economics in the future. She thinks that the school needs to get internet access as soon as possible because it will help students access more information and keep them abreast of what is going on in the world. “We need more facilities here, especially an internet connection,” she adds.

In an effort to bring communities and schools closer, EQUIP has established School Management Shuras (councils) in all the schools in the province. The Shuras have taken an active part in school affairs, Rahmani says. “They always help the schools and the program. With their full support, many of our challenges are being solved in schools,” he says. 



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