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FEATURE STORY

Herat State-of-the-Art Lab Inspires Students to Excel

September 20, 2016

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Computer science teacher Freshta Mohammadi, demonstrates how to use the ‘insert’ menu of a software application. 

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

Story Highlights
  • Modern equipment and facilities in a girls’ school have boosted students’ enthusiasm for learning, enabling them to win a software competition among high schools in Herat Province.
  • It is one of many significant outcomes of the grants the school received from the Education Quality Improvement Project, implemented by the Ministry of Education.
  • The project aims to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls, and is supported by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

HERAT CITY, Herat Province – Computer science teacher Freshta Mohammadi, 25, stands in front of a class of 11th grade students at Mawlana Hatefi Girls’ High School. As the students look at a projected screen, she demonstrates how to use the ‘insert’ menu of a software application.

“Students study their computer lessons with more enthusiasm because we have enough computers in our class now and every student gets a chance to practice on one,” says Freshta Mohammadi. “The learning environment has dramatically improved in Mawlana Hatefi High School since 2009.”

Freshta Mohammadi has every reason to be proud of her students. The school recently won a software competition among all high schools in Herat Province. “Students from our school developed a software application that easily explained the power circuit,” says Tamana, 18, a 12th grade student. The school computer laboratory is equipped with wireless internet service that students use to research their school projects. “If we did not have access to a well-equipped computer lab and internet service, it would have been very difficult for us to win the first position in the software competition,” she says.

Mawlana Hatefi Girls’ High School is located in the heart of Herat city in western Afghanistan. It separated from the boys’ school of the same name in 2002 and has since grown to an enrollment of over 6,000 female students. Students attend the school in three shifts throughout the day, studying in 114 classrooms.

Enhanced academic quality

The school has received two Quality Enhancement Grants (QEGs), one in 2009 and one in 2012, from the Education Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP). EQUIP, now in its second phase, seeks to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls. It is 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) has taken over funding as co-financier of the project.

The QEGs, totaling 416,000 Afghanis (more than $6,000), have allowed the school to purchase state-of-the art laboratory equipment for the science facilities, computers for the computer laboratory, and books for the library. These new resources have dramatically enhanced the academic quality of the school, and in turn increased the enthusiasm for learning and commitment of students to their studies.


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The learning environment has dramatically improved in Mawlana Hatefi High School since 2009. 

Rumi Consutancy / World Bank

" Students study their computer lessons with more enthusiasm because we have enough computers in our class now and every student gets a chance to practice on one.  "

Freshta Mohammadi

Teacher, Mawlana Hatefi Girls’ High School

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Students, study in a class room. A school bank account was opened with help from the shura to enable the community to make donations easily, according to Asifa Moshfeq, the school’s principal. 

Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

“A few years ago we did not have a laboratory in our school and our lessons were limited to theory,” says eleventh grader Najla, 17, of the science laboratory, where the neatly organized shelves are filled with tubes for chemistry lessons and plastic models of human body parts. “We now use this laboratory and conduct experiments, following our lessons in chemistry, physics, and biology three to four times per week,” she says.

Students use the school’s well-equipped library to study and read books to which they might not otherwise have access. Although the enrollment at the school is high, all students enjoy regular access to the library services. The library has a catalogue of 3,000 books, including age-appropriate and popular books for students from first to twelfth grade.

Community participation

EQUIP has operated in Herat Province since August 2007, and covers 995 schools in all 15 districts of the province. To date, the project through two mechanisms—an Infrastructure Development Grant (IDG) and the QEG—has provided 719 schools with equipment funds, built 47 new school buildings, and founded four new schools in the province. The Mawlana Hatefi Girls’ High School, however, was built with support from World Vision, an international non-governmental organization.

In addition to providing these grants, EQUIP has fostered school management shuras (councils) to increase cooperation between the community and school. Parents, teachers, and students in higher grades are members of the shuras, allowing them and the school management to collaborate on school affairs.

At Mawlana Hatefi Girls’ High School, a school bank account was opened with help from the shura to enable the community to make donations easily, according to Asifa Moshfeq, the school’s principal. “Parents have also helped us significantly in greening the school yard and providing plumbing for sanitation in the school,” he says.

Abdul Jabar, an EQUIP supervisor, notes that the EQUIP grants and the school shuras created under the project have brought parents closer to the school. “This has let parents assess the academic quality of the school and discuss with the teachers their concerns and problems,” he says.

 


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