Despite such challenges as ongoing civil conflicts or severe poverty, teachers around the world go the extra mile (in some cases, literally) to educate their students. EDC is there to help.
Says Milwida Guevara, who works with EDC in the Philippines, “Teachers intertwine their lives with the lives of these youth because they believe education can change lives. Without them, I don’t see how we could make a difference in the lives of so many youth.”
Zanzibar: A teacher gives her students food for thought
Hanifa Soud Aman helped (above) her mother raise her seven younger brothers and sisters. And so it was no surprise that later, like her mother, Aman became a primary school teacher.
It didn’t dissuade Aman, in this semi-autonomous region of Tanzania called Zanzibar, that most girls didn’t attend the few existing schools. Or that until recently, the impoverished region didn’t have a single formal institution of higher learning.
Despite these limitations, Aman went on to teach students with learning disabilities. This accomplishment earned her a spot with six teachers developing broadcast radio scripts for EDC’s Radio Instruction to Strengthen Education (RISE) project in Zanzibar, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Aman developed characters, songs, and content to accompany the interactive radio instruction programs.
After working as a scriptwriter, she returned to her classroom in the village of Pemba a better teacher.
“Now my students listen to me intently because I might put a story into the lesson,” says Aman. “Now I ask my students questions to make them think. I prepare learning materials that help them learn by doing.”
Philippines: When earning a living competes with education
Rowena Abad found herself teaching to a half-empty classroom yet again, and then it hit her. She knew what she had to do.
Abad finished up her lesson at the USAID community learning center in remote Kibleg village in Mindanao, a region of the Philippines long made unstable by ongoing conflict. Instead of returning home, Abad visited the home of one of the youths who had been absent. She knew the boy had been hard at work on the family farm, planting crops and clearing land, so she brought him his homework.
After that, one day a week, Abad traveled by foot to teach the students who missed class in order to work. Sometimes she walked up to three hours each way—even in the rain—to deliver books and homework.
“I teach my students, and I spend time with parents, counseling them on the importance of educating their children well,” Abad says.
Abad is just one of the 377 educators in Mindanao dedicated to teaching out-of-school youth through the EQuALLS2 project. By the project’s end in 2011, 70,000 out-of-school youth are expected to complete basic education programs.
Sudan: Education thrives despite ongoing conflict
Joseph Taban has a new classroom of students at Pamoju Primary School, or so it seems.
He is still teaching math and science to the same 60 students in Kajo Keji county, Central Equatoria, in Southern Sudan. Following decades of civil war, the area still faces post-conflict strife five years after the 2005 peace agreement between the north and semi-autonomous south.
But it used to be that “pupils were too shy to speak English,” says Taban. “I did not know the importance of preparing for a lesson. I would just go to class and start teaching. Whenever I was teaching, I would always direct my questions to the brighter pupils.”
Now, Taban has received his first formal teacher training through EDC’s Southern Sudan Interactive Radio Instruction program (SSIRI). Today, all of his students participate.
“Now I know that every pupil can become a better learner if you involve them,” he says.
Supported by the USAID, SSIRI has trained more than 2,500 teachers in southern Sudan, with more than 180 in Kajo Keji alone.
A version of this article appears in EDC Update Winter 2011.