Category Archives: Education

International Women’s Day Puts Spotlight on Global Poverty, Gender Inequalities

International Women’s Day Twitter Chat

We will join Global Impact to discuss these aforementioned women’s and girls’ issues on Friday, March 13 at 1 PM EST. Join us using #HerDay2015.

In Ormoc, Philippines women tend to take on village leadership roles to ensure children under five get their scheduled vaccinations and routine check-ups. These women also provide medical information to mothers and families who live deep in the rural parts of Ormoc and have a harder time attaining health services.

1 billion victims of violence

These village leaders are, for all intents and purposes, the lifelines for these rural families to health care. In addition to village leaders, rural health units staffed by volunteer health workers and nutrition scholars are charged with providing essential health care and information to families who otherwise would go without medical care.

“Being a leader makes me happy, but it is difficult,” said Ludivinia Perez, a village leader in Ormoc, Philippines on Leyte island. “I feel good about it. What makes it difficult is if I don’t have enough funds and resources.”

Continue reading International Women’s Day Puts Spotlight on Global Poverty, Gender Inequalities

9 Last-Minute Virtual Valentine’s Day Gifts for Good

Valentine's Day 1

If you’re like many of us you may have waited until the very last-minute to buy your loved ones Valentine’s Day gifts. While you can still run out and buy a wealth of flowers, cards, and chocolates, here are nine virtual Valentines’s Day gifts you can give that also give back.

Oxfam Unwrapped: Oxfam recommends giving duos of animals for Valentine’s Day: a pair of chickens ($18), a pair of sheep ($80) or a pair of goats ($100).  Send lovely animals to families in need.

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation: EGPAF is asking its lovely supporters to send Valentine’s Day e-cards to spread awareness about pediatric AIDS. It costs nothing, but the gift of awareness is always key. Click here to spread the love.

Midwives for Haiti: We all believe in the power of saving mothers’ lives. This Valentine’s Day donate to Midwives for Haiti and help them stock their medicinal chest with life-saving medicines for the entire year. Donate with love to Midwives for Haiti.

Vaccine Ambassadors: There is no doubt that vaccines save lives. Vaccines are one of the best ways to show love for children around the world. Buy vaccines with love for children whose lives can be saved by this easy intervention. $10 vaccinates 19 children against the measles.

Continue reading 9 Last-Minute Virtual Valentine’s Day Gifts for Good

Bill and Melinda Gates’ 15-Year Bet For a Better World

Each January Bill and Melinda Gates release their Annual Letter. This year they are taking  a bet on the world’s future.

15 years ago the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was started and  there have been substantial improvements in global health and development since then because of its dedication to the world’s poorest people. Now, Bill and Melinda Gates believe even more can be done in the next 15 years.

More Children Will Live and More Diseases Will Be Eradicated

By 2030 Bill and Melinda Gates bet that fewer children will die from preventable disease and more preventable diseases will be eradicated, Africa will be able to feed itself, millions more will gain access to mobile banking and education will be improved by innovative software.

Today, one in 20 children die from preventable diseases. In 2030, Bill and Melinda Gates bet the number of child deaths will come down to one in 40 children. Decreasing that number will take political will from  the hardest hit countries with child mortality, new approaches and programs to keep children and newborns alive, vaccines, better health systems, and funding.


Africa Will Be Able to Feed Itself

It’s mind-boggling to know that Africa imports $50 billion dollars in food annually. Why? Because African farmers do not produce enough food currently to feed the continent. But due to its massive size and large agrarian societies Bill and Melinda Gates believe Africa will indeed be able to feed itself in 15 years . More training, better seeds, improved fertilizers, and crop rotations will lead to more yields across all of sub-Saharan Africa. That will lead to more money remaining in Africa for national and continent-wide improvements, such as increased funds to improve health systems or provide better training to farmers across the board.


More People Will Have Access to Mobile Banking 

Currently there are 2.5 billion people who do not have access to a banking account. This means these people aren’t able to keep their assets safe and it proves difficult to borrow money and pay it back seamlessly. Bill and Melinda Gates believes that in 15 years hundreds of millions of people will gain access to a mobile bank account that will change their lives and the way they save, spend, and earn money.

Education Will Improve Due to Software 

While more girls are getting an education around the world there are still too many girls who are left out of school. By 2030 that gender gap in education will sharply close. It is important to educate girls for the following reasons:


With innovative technology education will be  accessible to millions more helping them leave the cycle of poverty and to improve their lives.

Bill and Melinda Gates are calling on everyone to become Global Citizens and care about these issues. Read 2015 Gates Annual Letter: Our Big Bet for the Future at

Our Top 10 Recommended NGO Videos of 2014

Effective video making is a powerful form of storytelling. Videos, when done well, get to the heart of the matter quickly and leave people wanting to know more, do more, and donate more. These videos encompass all of those things and also made us want to delve more into not only their messages, but also spread the word. Here are our top 10 NGO video recommendations of the year.

World Food Programme

World Food Programme workers the world over constantly face what could be insurmountable circumstances to feed people who lack proper nutrition and enough food to sustain themselves. With a rock-n-roll backdrop in this video the WFP shows how they have overcome logistical barriers to feed the South Sudanese during the rainy season.

The Blessing Basket Project

Do you remember the first time you saw the ocean? For many of us who have visited the coast since we were kids that memory is long gone. Not so for Sarah, a Ugandan country director for The Blessing Basket Project, who recently saw the ocean for the very first time. This video in its simplicity shows how far good content can go.

Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Have you read The Last Hunger Season by Roger Thurow? If you haven’t gift it to yourself during the holidays. It’s a remarkable read. What’s even better is Thurow followed up his book this year with an eight part film series. So many of us who have read The Last Hunger Season wanted to know more about everyone Thurow mentioned in the book. How were they doing? Did they see improvements in their lives and harvests? Did they endure another hunger season? You can find out those answers in the film series. Watch all eight and follow Thurow’s blog, Outrage and Inspire.


We all know every child has the right to an education. But did you know children with disabilities, children in marginalized groups, girls, and child soldiers are often kept out of school? These children also have a right to an education. 57 million children are still without an education. This video shows how BRAC, through the assistance of Norad,  helped a physically disabled little girl, Ria, go to primary school in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Clean Team Ghana

Something as simple as using the bathroom can be very dangerous for women and girls, especially where there are public toilets.  The Clean Team Ghana keeps public toilets clean for the communities at an affordable rate where everyone can use the restroom with dignity.

Doctors Without Borders

Even in the midst of armed conflicts Doctors Without Borders along with other international NGOs believe that children still must be vaccinated. This video shows how difficult it can be to vaccinate children in some of the most remote areas of the Congo and how Doctors Without Borders team accomplished their task despite the inherent obstacles.


Pakistan has 170 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births each year per the World Health Organization making it one of the countries in Asia with the highest maternal mortality rates. Sub-Saharan Africa sees the greatest maternal death rates. Without midwives, more women will die without skilled ante and postnatal care. Through first-person storytelling, this UNICEF video shows the importance of midwives in Pakistan to the safe delivery of newborns and the survival of their mothers.


This touching video of two sisters who were born blind shows how a simple medical procedure can correct blindness and restore sight within 15 minutes. 20/20/20 gives sight to some of the world’s poorest children and adults who otherwise would never be able to afford this operation.

Human Rights Watch

Can you imagine getting up every morning to clean human waste from dry toilets (those without running water or that are not attached to a septic system) day after day without pay? And, while the work is humiliating enough, adverse health conditions arise from carrying baskets of excreta on one’s head from losing patches of hair, having constant nausea and headaches  to getting skin diseases and having breathing difficulties. Watch this chilling Human Rights Watch video about women in the undesirable caste who are forced to clean human waste in India.

Girl Effect

FGM (female genital mutilation) is one of the most inhumane practices on young girls in the world. It causes undue physical and psychological damage to girls for the course of their entire lives. More than 125 million girls and women living today have undergone FGM in mainly 30 countries. However, with an increase in immigration, girls who now live in western countries are also getting “cut” in order to sustain the rigid cultural practice. This Girl Effect video shares the candid and moving voices of women who underwent FGM and are now speaking out against it.

Correction (9/18):  Clean Team is a sanitation business not an NGO. Clean Team provides in-house toilets to the urban poor in Kumasi, Ghana at an affordable fee. They do not keep public toilets clean.

Why This 21-Year-Old Filipino Mother Dropped Out of School in 6th Grade

I met Jasmine and her son, Kent John, 7-months-old, on a sunny day at a free health clinic in Ormoc, a busy port city on Leyte island in the Philippines. At just 21-year-old Jasmine came to the clinic because Kent John had been experiencing a cough and fever for two weeks.

Luckily located very close to the clinic, Jasmine takes her son to the clinic for his regular immunizations and goes anytime Kent John is ill. Sometimes she has to wait for two hours before being seen by Glenda B. Serato, the health clinic’s nurse.

“I am confident with my baby’s health because I can access free immunizations and medicine,” Jasmine says through translation.

The mothers I spoke to including Jasmine mention always coming to the clinic for their children’s  immunizations even though many live deep in the rural areas where rice and sugar fields are abundant and access to health services are not.

“The mothers are educated now,” Serato confirms. “It is very rare that mothers don’t get their children vaccinated.”

During Typhoon Haiyan that devastated much of Leyte island, Jasmine was five months pregnant, but was able to deliver her first child, Kent John, via C-section at a public hospital. Now, she is taking oral contraceptives to space her children with her husband, who drives a motorcycle for a living.

Continue reading Why This 21-Year-Old Filipino Mother Dropped Out of School in 6th Grade

Why Secondary Education for Girls Reduces Child Marriage, Early Pregnancies

UNESCO just released its report, Sustainable Development: Post 2015 Begins With Education, that takes a look at the critical importance of education on the post-2015 agenda. The core stance in the report portends that without greater access to education poverty eradication will become increasingly difficult to achieve by 2030. The betterment of women’s and girls’ lives across the globe, most specifically in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia depends greatly on their equal access to quality education.

In the poorest countries, 2.9 million girls are married by 15. If girls in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia simply have a secondary education child marriage would decrease by 69%. Secondary education also causes a delay in young girls having their first child. Young girls disproportionately die in childbirth. Education will, in turn, cause a reduction in not only maternal health, but also in newborn deaths. In fact, Brazil saw a a 70 percent reduction in its fertility rate because it became a country priority to improve schools and education.

Educated girls have children later and smaller families overall. They are less likely to die during pregnancy or birth, and their offspring are more likely to survive past the age of five and go on to thrive at school and in life. Women who attended school are better equipped to protect themselves and their children from malnutrition, deadly diseases, trafficking and sexual exploitation. – Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway and Graça Machel, President, Foundation for Community Development & Founder, Graça Machel Trust.


Continue reading Why Secondary Education for Girls Reduces Child Marriage, Early Pregnancies

How You Can Send Children to School in Laos, Guatemala and Ghana

Education, it is often said, is the key to a child’s future. When a child in low and middle-income countries goes to school, their future income increases by 10 percent. Girls who go to school have healthier children when they get married when they matriculate, and educated girls also delay marriage. Additionally, girls who are less educated are more vulnerable to violence. To compete in a growing, global economy, then, education is becoming increasingly more important to break perpetual cycles of financial and health poverty.

Pencils of Promise (PoP), the for-purpose organization founded by Adam Braun in 2008, launched its annual Back to School campaign in August that aims to send 1600 children to school in Laos, Guatemala, and Ghana. So far Pencils of Promise has raised a little under 50 percent of its overall goal. The campaign runs until October 3.

Time and again the main reason children drop out of school is because of exorbitant school fees that their parents cannot afford. And so children become endlessly trapped in a life that dictates that they grow up without the necessary tools to be more productive citizens for their country, community, and family. In short, an education means the difference between living in poverty and eventually escaping it.

Pencils of Promise knows this well. A $250 donation can send a child to school for one year. Your donation includes uniforms, backpacks, supplies, transportation, and dormitory fees.

What is Pencils of Promise

Pencils of Promise is an organization that recognizes the global impact of sending children to school and allowing them the opportunity to receive a life-saving, potentially poverty eradicating gift of an education. Starting by Adam Braun in 2008, Pencils of Promise puts 100% of all donated dollars to educating children around the world.

The Promise of a PencilBraun recently wrote The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change. This book is perfect for high schoolers, college students, and even college graduates as tangible evidence that with gumption and a desire to do good anyone can change the lives of people in need; especially children who have so little that a single pencil is a true gift.

In his book Braun honestly recounts the early days of creating Pencils of Promise. It is refreshing to read that his NGO wasn’t served to him on a silver platter from people who liked his idea and created everything for him. That’s far from the truth. Through hard work and thinking outside of the box, Braun was able to turn a mere $25 investment into more than 200 schools that have now been built, employs and trains local teachers, and educates children. To be sure, Braun stumbled along the way as he created Pop and is candid about that in his book. The background he gives shows even more why any donation to Pencils of Promise has the potential to alter the trajectory of a child’s life forever and that PoP will remain honest stewards of all donated funds.

Donate to Pencils of Promise and send a child to school.


Teaching in the Netherlands and Learning Outcomes #TeacherTuesday

This interview was conducted by and is courtesy of UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report team. 

We are happy to join UNESCO’s #TeacherTuesday campaign – a ten week journey around the world to share a glimpse of teaching from the voices of teachers themselves. The sixth honored teacher is Cees, a teacher from the Netherlands. This is his story.

I’m working at a secondary school called Spinozalyceum Amsterdam for 12-18 year olds. It’s a general high school in the Netherlands.

There are 1100 students in our school and I have several classes with an average of 26 students. I’m a history teacher. It’s my sixth year and my second school. I was at a previous school for two years.

Photo_CeesI became a teacher because I was working in a museum in Amsterdam. It is a photographic museum and was asked to set up the educational part of the museum and that brought me to some teachers who were giving art lessons to children and that was really interesting and gave me the idea that this would be exciting and challenging work – you’re really free to design your own lessons.

Teaching was not seen as a good profession but right now there’s a lot of attention in politics to say let’s improve the level and appreciation for it. If I compare myself as an academic teacher who studied for five years with another master after that, then the starting level of pay is quite low, but after about ten years then it becomes more acceptable, but it takes a long time to get on a certain level on which you are comparable to other salaries, and people who have marketing jobs, for example, earn a lot better.

There are some school subjects in which a lot of people will try to get jobs as teachers but there are also real shortages in certain subjects. Economy teachers and German teachers and certain other language teachers are hard to find. For history there are a lot teachers.

I find it difficult to answer why the Netherlands are doing so well because what do grades mean!? To which countries do you compare?

We have a professional education for teacher, if you want to teach in the Netherlands you need to get your papers. Those teacher educations are loose, I guess, so it doesn’t mean that everyone who’s teaching has the right papers because of the shortages in the offer of teachers, you get a certain license but it’s always, well, the school need to show to the inspection that they have good quality. So you have to do your best to get certified teachers as a school.

We have first grade and second grade teachers in Holland. First grade need academic qualification at first. That means I was studying history for five years. After that I am a historian. I’m not a teacher. Becoming a teacher you then need to do a full time year of study and then you learn a bit the basics of teaching history. Right now you have a master in history and then you need a teaching history master. That’s first grade.

If you want to be second grade teacher that means you can’t teach the higher grades. We have pupils who are 12-13-14 years, but those who are 15-16-16, you can only teach the younger kids, so not of the preparing final exam class. You can always become a first grade teacher by doing extra lessons, but you must already have a lot of interpersonal and pedagogical competence.

If you studied something like law at university it means it’s hard to become a teacher because there are very few schools giving law. If you studied French it’s very easy as most schools offer French. It’s then very easy to do one year of extra study because you already have all the knowledge of French, but if you studied marketing, then it’s more difficult because there are not really courses in marketing at schools, so you have to have the luck to already have done the kind of course that’s given at school.

We have a certain amount of teaching hours and all the coming tasks from that – preparing and the after work – and from 5-10% of your time is reserved for professional development every year – courses and training. 10% is a big amount. It’s much time.

Everyone has to write a professional development plan and in that plan you have your growing points – your developing points – and we do this every year after we speak to our boss who does our analysis. You then you do the courses you need. We don’t have a huge budget, we have 500 euros a year, which isn’t much, but we do the courses in-house with, for example, ten teachers at a time so you get a discount. We have also a lot of training in how to go along with problem kids – pedagogical side – and those trainings are really moving because they tell a lot about your own personal difficulties. That’s another that passes on the educational system in Holland. Lots of 360° reflections on yourself in Holland. Thinking about what does this problem I have say about me.

One other reason for why we are able to improve ourselves as teachers is the pupil enquiry lists in which pupils give their opinion about you and your lessons. It’s a very confronting way and big motivation to improve yourself. You want satisfied pupils! Of course these test are input for the evaluation with your boss about functioning properly.

About 70% of the courses we teach is compulsory, but 30% we can chose our different subjects which are interesting. Not bad that it’s structured, because it’s about what we find particularly important that we teach our students.

National exams are always in a certain dialogue. For our history teachers we have an organization of history teachers who are always working with policy makers so there is a way to influence curriculum. But that’s a problem with policy – we are already experiencing some difficulties and know it won’t change in five years because we know policy is in the long term. That’s a bit frustrating but that’s always the thing. We are well organized in Holland, though, at least with our history teachers – that’s what I can attest. I think it must be the same with other courses.

We have our school exam and we have our final national exam. If the students have too big a difference between the grades in those two exams then you have to explain something. A lot of work is preparing for the national exam, but you must also do well in the school exam because otherwise you’re grading your students too low or too high.

I am teaching at a school where it is very student focused. Students are the masters of their own learning process. You teach them how to cooperate, how to be self-supporting, and to make their own decisions how to learn things.

In our professional courses, we create those lessons with lesson forms. We know how to deal with all the learning styles – the doers, the thinkers, the dreamers – we have training in how to manage the different levels in our class – it’s called teaching on demand. It means we have different cognitive intelligence in our classroom. Simply said, we have smarter and less smarter pupils on our class.

You design choice in your lesson programs for the disadvantaged students. So the more you focus on the pupil with your learning activities, the more different choices they have. If they have a choice in which to start first, and what to learn later, and what they have to work on themselves, and what is a common activity, it motivates them to learn.

In my school we have a different level that’s really preparing on the academical side so about half prepare for university, many prepare for the other higher schools, some also prepare for apprenticeships – more on the practical side.

When they come to our school in the first grade, they are already tested and some, on the basis of their results, are going directly to the higher schools, but the ones who are not certain yet they have a bridge class, they call it, where they decide if they go to the higher school or the practical side. An in-between class. 30% to go university, 50% go to the other higher schools and 20% go into some trade or practical apprenticeships.

My typical day starts as I arrive at school at 7.50am and the lessons start at 8.30am. In the first hour, pupils are a bit quiet because you need to wake them up still. Most of the time the first two hours are really nice to teach because they’re still rested and attentive to your lessons. The more the day is over, the more knowledge they have and less attention. At my school the students are really social, really paying attention to each other. We do a lot of group activities.

Every day in the middle hour they have one hour to decide what to do – it’s called the Delton hour – a free hour when they put themselves on the list to say what courses they want to do – maths, French, German or history, and then they work for themselves, but they can ask us for extra help. We can also invite certain pupils who need extra attention. Then we have the big power break when the kids eat their sandwiches – typically Dutch we don’t have the warm lunch! – Holland is a typical sandwich culture and I don’t mean the nice sandwich with egg and butter, it’s more likely bread with a slice of cheese! Then the last two hours are difficult to get their attention. It means we have to have more creative classes but it’s not always easy to get their attention.

We finish on average at 3pm or 4pm.

The homework is a bit less – especially if they really work in that middle hour, but it’s up to them if they work during that time or not. They choose themselves if they’re going to be productive in that time or not. It’s a bit like giving them responsibility to discover at the end whether they’ve spent that time effectively. That hour doesn’t happen in every school. It gives them more freedom to grow more responsible. We also work with deadlines. Some don’t. But we do. It’s not typically Dutch, this, but we do have more of this because we have more liberal parents who want their children to be in more liberal schools. But typically classical schools see the teachers speak more and the pupils are more quiet.

Our pupils are more ready for the academical studies because, with all the freedom and responsibility they have, they know better how to use it than the pupils who have strict classical lessons.

I was surprised because we also have German, British and American schools and I though America was really ahead in integrating ICT.

We have the label of being a school for immigrants. We have a really nice mix of those pupils who have disadvantages and those who have the advantages of really educated parents and it’s positive for both. In our school we have a certain lottery and we’re a popular school and have more pupils who want to be in our school than we can offer. And that’s equal for everyone. So we’re not an elite school. We’re not selecting only those with the high grades. In all Dutch schools we have a good mix of pupils who need more attention, but it’s not too much of a problem ever. We have special courses for Islamic cultures and those from other background in our training to understand about them. We aim at teaching to all levels in our class. We have lots of tools for that. If you have problems then you can always get training.

During the training we have supervision and mentors and I had two coaches – one for supervision on the psychological reflection and one for more general studies. Now when you’re new at the school you have a special coach. When you’re not new anymore, you don’t have a coach, but in every school you find five teachers who are equal and you share your experiences – what you can’t cope with and what techniques you use. You can reflect on that. It’s really helpful for things you can’t cope with. It’s done by our school. We got special training to lead such conversations. And now we do that as some sort of oral support. For example I had a personal clash with a pupil and I didn’t know what to do because there was tension that wasn’t getting better. I talked to the pupils’ parents and that didn’t help, so then I talked to the support group. It’s all classified and safe of course.

I am also a teacher coach, so I observe lessons of my new teachers in the school. The best piece of advice I could give to a new teacher is to be themselves. Everyone is different. Pupils know if the teacher is behaving like he isn’t in real life. But on the other hand, be very consistent.

I guess that if we cooperate more between the teachers nationally – maybe if the ones who are writing the school books are aiming more on how we can create more active lessons that will help a lot more. When you find a really different lesson plan on the internet you wish you could find more. It needs to be written out, you can’t tell someone in one minute, how and why you can do a lesson. But the current method doesn’t offer that. We need more learning activities and programs. is a good example of a tool we use to professionalize ourselves by sharing knowledge with other teachers in the world by the internet.

My hopes for the future of teaching in my country? I am really hopeful about technology helping us to improve the organization that is needed to implement student-centered learning. Last Friday we had a mind-blowing presentation of the Dutch educational entrepreneur Bob Hofman that introduced Peerscholar (invented and used by the University of Toronto) to Europe. This computer program is a very good example of how teachers will be able to help students really reflect on each other’s work, and which will improve their responsibility to their own learning process. Less focus on grades and more on the content and the reflection of how they are learning.

Read more about the Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

Mohammed’s Story: Teaching in Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan

This interview was conducted by and is courtesy of UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report team. 

We are happy to join UNESCO’s #TeacherTuesday campaign – a ten week journey around the world to share a glimpse of teaching from the voices of teachers themselves. The fourth honored teacher is Mohammed, a teacher in the Zaatari Refugee Camp. This is his story.

Mohammed now lives in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan and has been there for 8 months. He has been teaching there for 4 months.

“Our main problems are the shortage of text books, we need boards and markers.  There’s a big deal of coordination with foreigners. There are problems as teachers are dealing with children who have become aggressive because of the situation and the parents are not following up with their children in the school.

There is a lack of textbooks and stationary. Because the schools are run by the Jordanian Ministry of education the teachers must be Jordanian and the Syrian teachers are only assistants. It would be better if all the teachers were Syrian. All the children in the camp are Syrian. If teachers were Syrian too, we’d be of the same culture, and the children accept the Syrian teachers more than the Jordanian ones. But I praise the Jordanian people for their efforts in the school. The Syrian teachers also have lots of experience in teaching. I was teaching for 12 years in Syria and there are many teachers from Syria who have high qualifications and who are well educated, but they are marginalized in the camp. We should be using their expertise in teaching in the camp.

Save the Children had a recruitment for schools and I applied for the job four months ago and they hired me because of my experience and because I have my own university degree and have been teaching for 12 years. I passed the test with full marks.

I teach in school number 3 where there are two schools in one. A primary and secondary combined. Girls in the morning, boys in the afternoon. 800 students in primary from 1st to 4th grade and 400 students in secondary school from 5th – 11th grade.

The school doesn’t look like a school. I want a yard where children can play. We want our school to look like other schools. The principal is Jordanian. I want to do something better in the school, to have my name officially in the school because I am Syrian like the students.

There are 25-40 in each class at my school, school 2. In school 1, there are from 80-120 in classes because of its location in the camp, it’s in one is in the most densely populated area. This is why there are so many students. And it’s in the oldest area of Zaatari, which is a massive, massive place. It takes a couple of hours to walk across the camp.

All children are welcome to register for school and are encouraged through the ‘Back to School’ campaign with Save the Children. We go to their caravans and tents and ask if there are students out of school. We called their parents and encouraged them to register in the school.

The majority of children in the camp are in school though. There are 50,000 children in the camp in total. Half of them are school aged children and 20,000 are currently registered with a school.

Some have missed up to three school years. It’s important they are enrolled into school. We are engaging with the students through the curriculum, but we still need support for that. We have a plan for the whole school year. We have to use the Jordanian curriculum and it can be hard for the new students. There’s not a big difference between the two curriculums, as the last version of the Syrian curriculum was similar to the Jordanian one. The problem is not for us as teachers, the problem is for the children as the learning style is very different. In Syria we start with letters and then give the words, in Jordan they give the words first and then the letters.

We have received training how to teach the Jordanian curriculum. UNICEF also gave us a course on how to be a good teacher. They are training other teachers at the end of March. It’s a good course.

We have many aggressive students because of the situations they faced during the crisis and supporting children in the camp with psychosocial support is important. The Syrian teachers are doing their best to take them out of the situation.

Save the Children have their own caravan with some toys and they do some activities with the children to relieve the tension that they have. They give psychosocial support. We identify children who need support and direct them to the centres. There are over 60 centres in the camp.

Every day the World Food Program distributes high nutrient biscuits to the school for the children and the teachers help hand them out.

Education is very important for children here. We are as Syrian teachers, role models for our students and try all the time to support them and give them attention because sometimes they drop out and we encourage them to stay at school.

We have extra lessons for the children and their parents about ethics and morals in order not to be bad people because of the situation.

Some of the children are still scared of school because they saw their schools being destroyed because of bombing and think the schools are like those in Syria. Some of them don’t come because they think they are not certified in Jordan but this is not true, they can all come. Some refuse to take the Jordanian curriculum and want their own Syrian curriculum. Sometimes some students don’t come to school because it’s very far away from their tent or caravan and are afraid to be targeted by the bad boys in the street.

Because I teach boys some of them are waiting for job to get money because they are very poor here and they want to help their families. They want to continue their education to be in the university in the future but I think they are not accepted in Jordanian universities but I am not sure. The younger ones are wanting to go to school because they love school.

In Syria now, some students are still going to school in the safe places but not all the towns are safe. But other schools like my old school is completely destroyed and nobody can go to school. Through the crisis if it’s safe the children can go but if it’s not safe, if there are shootings and bombings around the school they couldn’t go. Some of the schools were occupied by some of the fighting groups.

I kept going to school to release the tensions and to support the families there but many children didn’t come because of fear. To help the children we try to tell them that we must go on and all the time give them hope for the future. I got no support from anyone to carry on my teaching in that situation. There were no organizations there.

The teachers are there for the students but the majority don’t come as it’s not safe for them to reach the school and the number of students are very little, that’s why you can’t call it an education process.

I was teaching in my school until it was completely destroyed, then I move to another school. Once all schools in the area had been completely destroyed, then I left and came to Zaatari. The majority of teachers left Syria to come to Zaatari, but some have stayed doing humanitarian work for families there. And some keep teaching the students in villages.


My school was attacked at night time so neither the students nor teachers were there. They bombed the whole village that time and they destroyed the school because it was in the area.

Once they stopped paying me my salary in Syria, it was very hard for me. We had to look for bread and everything. We had to start working as volunteers to help families. Because the situation became so bad with the bombing and shooting, we advised everyone to leave and then we left after them.

When my salary ran out, my main work was to collect wheat for the families and to send it to the men to make flour so they could make their own bread. I wanted to try to help and support all the people in my village.

I have six boys.  They were attending school but they left Syria one year before me but I was able to keep constant contact with my family.  My boys were from 2nd to the 10th grade.  They all go to school again now.

Now I get some support. We receive items and can buy items with coupons. And Save the Children pay us 10 Jordanian pounds a day. Syrians aren’t legally allowed to work in Jordan so we work on a voluntary basis so we receive a stipend. It’s not a salary to live on. We don’t pay for rent, and children don’t pay for school and we have food rations. The coupons give us the basic food and to buy other things for the family.

On a typical day here, in the morning I get the bread for my family. I wake up at 5.30am. I spend some time with my family. The school start at 11.30am. It ends at 4 pm. There’s a break when I go home for a rest. Then I go to the street and talk to the families about their needs because we want to take the messages from the street, and to hear about their issues. At night I prepare the coming lessons for students. It takes two hours for me every night. Then I spend some time with my family.

I advise other teachers arriving to teach like me to be honest. They are dealing with special cases who faced many bad experiences in the crisis and saw many bad things and bad pictures with their own eyes. They have to consider the situation when they teach their children at school.

I wish that people keep supporting us here in the camp. The support by organisations like UNICEF and Save the Children in the camp is going very well but we still need more support. I hope we get back to Syria and if it lasts longer than I expect, I hope the standard of the school get better here so that it’s good for our children.”

Read more about the Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

Photos by Alaa Malhas

Gender and Education: A Look at an Afghan Teacher’s Life

This interview was conducted by and is courtesy of UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report team. Later this week we will be delving into the Education for All Global Monitoring Report Gender summary to bring out facts about girls and education across the globe.

We are happy to join UNESCO’s #TeacherTuesday campaign – a ten week journey around the world to get a glimpse of teaching from the voices of teachers themselves. The second honored teacher is Nahida, a teacher from Afghanistan. This is her story.

I’m Nahida and have been a teacher since 1989. It was my family’s desire for me to become a teacher when I graduated from Kabul University.

I wanted to work in the foreign Ministry but Afghanistan is a religious country and for woman it is difficult to go and work in the foreign ministry and be a diplomat in a foreign country so my family wanted me to start as a teacher and work with the children.  I continued teaching enthusiastically for my students for three years in a primary school for small children – boys and girls.

After that time, after three years, I became the headmistress, then head of a high school. After 12 years I was given the post of principal at the High School of Kabul. In Kabul city there are more female teachers [than in most areas].

The management in leading a school is a difficult task, especially in Afghanistan. On a normal day at 6 o’clock in the morning I go to school and start my job as a principal. My school works in two shifts – one shift for the morning, and one for the afternoon.  I line-up all of the students in my school, all female, and I say hello to all my students in the line.  All the students say hello to me then they sing the national anthem. And then recite the holy Koran.

After that I give a small speech for one or two or three minutes then the students, teachers and I direct the students to class. The lessons then start. Daily that’s my habit and usually I control two classes in each shift.  I also monitor the teaching process of teachers in their classes. Morning shift ends at 12 o’clock. Every shift is six lots of 45 minutes with two intervals.

My school is a standard school which is supported by the French government. In each class we have 35 students.  In Afghanistan, even in Kabul, in other schools it is standard to have up to 50-70 students in each class, but in my school it is standard only 30-55 students in each class.

I traveled to different countries like Japan, UK, Germany, South Korea, India and later to Pakistan for training. Only some teachers in Afghanistan study abroad. I am among a small number of teachers who has travelled a lot to other countries. The Education Ministry gave me the chance to go abroad and take workshops in education and management, teaching methods. I still receive training from the British Council who gives special training for those teaching in girls’ schools.

When I was principal of the high school, the Government of Germany gave training to the teachers in my school. Now my school is supported by the French government.

I participated in more than 60 workshops and seminars in Afghanistan about education administration, management, leadership.

I have 7 children that are all grown up now. All my children studied in a high school. My son is an engineer who graduated from university. Now he is studying in France for 40 days to improve his French language. That’s a good chance for my son.

In the last period of time when Mujahidin came to power, different portions of Mujahidin started fighting in Kabul and other provinces. Schools closed because of security, especially girls schools. Schools become a target for Mujahidin.  Slowly when stability came to Afghanistan and Kabul for me it was priority to encourage girls and their families to come back to school.

I gave the message to their families and asked them to send their daughters to school again.

Also I made a council of elder people and religious people, and gave a message to them to help my school. Also I gave a message to the mosque because you know in Afghanistan, mosques help with all these things to encourage families and parents to send and to attend the female students to schools.

Also I asked different NGOs to support us especially getting uniforms for the girls and school books, and to support orphans and poor students. All of it was to encourage the families of the female students to send them to school.

When the Taliban came to power, it was their policy to close all the schools for females. For me, it was difficult to go to school to teach. When I went to my school, the principal of the school was a Mullah and he didn’t allow me to enter the school and asked me after that not to come to school.  But for the boys, school was open.  I was a teacher every day and I was sad for the girls. When I understood the policy of Taliban was not to allow girls and female teachers to go to school, I started a home school for girls because families and their parents asked me to teach their daughters. Families trust me because I was a well-known teacher in my school. I decided to continue my job and my responsibility for my people and my female students especially to help them. It was a very strict time. Very difficult. I was afraid. The home school was very secret, not official. In one day there were three shifts, two classes of 25 girls.

It was a very difficult situation because the Taliban was very strict in their rules.

The Taliban thought I ran a class for the holy Koran – a religious class but I taught not only the holy Koran, but also all the subjects that were in school – the complete school curriculum. I did not receive any salary for this.

Today it has changed. When the Taliban fell and under Karzai, everything changed. Schools opened for the girls and boys. I was the first female teacher who went back to my school and organized my school.

When I went to my school I can explain you how, what the condition was. The school was completely destroyed. The buildings had no windows, no doors. The surrounding wall of the building of our school was destroyed.

Schools didn’t have any chairs, tables, blackboard, chalk, totally no school materials because the school was a Taliban location.

When I went to my school first I cleaned the classes with the help of my female teachers and my labour. I made the surrounding wall in mud and stones. Fortunately I had taken all of the documents of the school and they were saved with me in my home. Once again I gave messages to their families, parents, mosque and asked families to send their daughters for attend school.

The girls came back slowly, slowly. I encouraged families, asked their parents to school, encouraged them, talked with them.  Also I sent my female teachers to their homes. I announced it in different mosques. Female teachers started coming back to school and I started my teaching, and female teachers started teaching again.

The government and thanks to the support of the international community, thousands more schools were built not only in Kabul but in different provinces, and destroyed schools were rebuilt, equipped schools with chairs, tables, good chairs, good tables.

Also more than 47, 48 different countries which are involved now in Afghanistan to support different schools in the country, in many provinces.

Now in Afghanistan, war continues every day. Here there are suicide attacks, bombs. The insecurity, and instability, is a big challenge for families, for our people, especially for girls attending the schools. You know, Afghanistan is a special country with special rules that must be followed by girls and women. When they want to go to school their parents are afraid about the lack of security, because suicide attacks happens, there are bombs and bad events in the city, many female students don’t come to school. For me as a director of this school, I have organized special transportation for my students. It’s a good solution to prevent absenteeism of girls from school.

It’s a big problem. You know when a bomb explosion happens in a city, how will the morale be of the students, especially female students? After each bad event that happens in our country, it has a very bad impact on their morale.

When a suicide attack happens, families don’t allow their girls to go to school for one or two days. Also for boys, but especially for girls.

In girls school it’s the rule the teacher has to be female. In my school, which I direct, of the 105 teachers, only 2% are male.

I only need three more female teachers for next year in my school, but in all Afghanistan it’s the big challenge for education, especially in the provinces for the girls’ schools. You’re faced with difficulties and challenges because of the lack of female teachers. Day by day the number of girls decreases especially in the high grades classes like 10, 11 and 12.

In the provinces especially in the unstable provinces like the south of Afghanistan the lack of the female teachers causes schools difficulties. Only in the big cities – the capital – we have in school a high number of female teachers. The Government and also the Ministry of Education are planning to do more to educate and hire female teachers, but it is hard to send teachers to the provinces because of lack of security.

It’s Afghan tradition and our religion doesn’t allow female teachers to go without their husbands anywhere. In provinces it is possible to recruit female teachers locally but in unstable provinces, the government is faced with difficulties recruiting. But in a stable province and in Kabul, we don’t have any problem about the job of female teachers.

It’s also a big problem especially for all of Afghan students who have graduated from schools and university to get a job as there is a lack of jobs. This decreased the number of students.

I am a realistic person and optimistic about our future of education and learning programmes in Afghanistan. Now our people, after three decades of war, completely know about the importance of education. People and families work hard and get money and spend more for their children to learn English, computers, to go to school. In fact they spend more investing in their children to go to school – like stationary, uniform.

In Afghanistan now there is big competition between Afghan families of knowledge and learning.  The families are lucky if their children go to school, if they learn more, graduate from high school and university, because now they know when a boy or a girl graduates from university he will be able to work not only in government, but with foreign NGOs and get a good salary. Good salaries can bring big change, fundamental change in their life. Because of that I am optimistic about the future of education in our country. One thing that is more important is that the international community support the future of education through our Government. Educated people don’t take guns and don’t destroy their country and their schools.