Afghanistan

Building Education Support Systems for Teachers (BESST)

In 2002, the Afghan government began the process of internal reorganization, recovery and reform to rebuild its education system.

With class sizes as large as 185 students per teacher and average classes of 70 students, the Afghan education system suffered from a lack of qualified, trained teachers. Indeed, many teachers had no more than a primary-school education and/or inadequate knowledge of their subjects, let alone or modern teaching methods.

Teacher training programs increased Afghan teachers’ awareness and practice of modern active-learner pedagogical methods, as opposed to rote memorization. Despite this and other positive developments, such as the increase in the numbers of girls enrolled, many obstacles remain on the road to quality universal education in the country.

The five-year Building Education Support Systems for Teachers project, funded by USAID, worked directly with the Afghanistan Ministry of Education to improve teaching quality in primary and secondary schools through in-service teacher training in 11 of the country’s 34 provinces. In the 2007-2008 academic year alone, the program recruited and trained 1,525 trainers and trained more than 50,600 teachers and principals in national curriculum and more than 3,135 principals in school management.

Emphasizing active-learner pedagogy through which teachers engages students in the learning process, the program established intensive accelerated study programs that allowed teachers to complete their own education through a grade 12 level and then enroll in teacher training programs, which improved instructional skills as well as subject-matter expertise.

In addition to in-service training, the program broadcast more than 700 radio programs and 25 television programs for teachers via radio and television stations to supplement education courses and subject matter content for teachers.

The program worked with the Ministry of Education to conduct management trainings for school principals and teachers nationwide and helped the ministry establish a teacher credentials system as part of a larger national education reform plan. As part of this reform, the program established 4,226 Teacher Learning Circles and 3,000 School Improvement Plan groups.

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