AFGHANISTAN:

Trainers Receive New Skills in Safer Conditions

August 27, 2008

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By mid-2008, more than 49,000 teachers and principals had been trained in teaching methodology, including nearly 2,000 head teachers and principals who were also trained in school management strategies under the Building Education Support Systems for Teachers (BESST) project.

Despite a fragile security environment, BESST has successfully and safely been engaged in supporting teachers and principals from the insecure districts of Wardak, Ghazni, and Kandahar, by holding additional trainings in secure, neighboring communities and districts, or in the provincial capital.

“I have come back to Kabul, for ITSA [In-Service Teacher Support Activities] training… to continue learning how to help and support Afghan teachers,” said Hafizullah, a trainer who lives and works in Wardak, one of the more insecure provinces in which BESST is managing face-to-face trainings for educators.

In Wardak, BESST implementing partner, Coordination of Afghanistan Relief (CoAR), has trained more than 3,600 teachers and school managers in the Ministry of Education’s In-Service (INSET) I curriculum. As a CoAR trainer, Hafiz led several two-week INSET I trainings in Wardak throughout the winter and spring of 2008.  In mid-June, he traveled to Kabul to undergo the next round of training, which will further improve his skills as a trainer in supporting teachers and principals through ITSA activities.

Hafiz recalled his first training under BESST at Sayed Jamaludin in Kabul, in October 2007.  For two weeks, Hafiz along with 24 other Senior Trainers underwent an intensive training in INSET I curriculum delivery.

“I wondered whether this would actually help the teachers who work out in the provinces or not.  But [the trainings] have gone very good and [the teachers] like this program,” Hafiz said. “Teachers now feel more responsible and the students are learning more easily now,” he paused and with a smile, added, “The students certainly are asking a lot of question from their teachers now.”

BESST, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development in Afghanistan and managed by Creative Associates International, Inc., developed the ITSA training to help reinforce the lessons teachers gained through the INSET I trainings and emphasize the respective roles of the community and school manager in strengthening teaching within a school. All of BESST’s trainers will learn how to observe and provide teachers with constructive feed-back, help educators set up Teacher-Learning Circles (TLCs), and support school managers to establish School Improvement Plans (SIP).

“I think having a meeting before and after the class with a teacher and talking about his lesson plan, the strong and weak points of the class, and the materials used — I really think that will help the teacher learn how to organize the class better,” Hafiz said.

Hafiz and the other Senior Trainers returned to their respective provincial capitals in late June and began the next tier of training for the 180 District Teacher Training Team (DT3) Leaders in INSET I delivery. By early August, BESST’s Team Leaders had trained their Team Members and, by mid-August, BESST’s DT3 trainers were carrying out ITSA activities at the school-level in all 11 provinces.

Although teacher training and support is the main component of BESST, the project is also developing and broadcasting educational radio programs to complement face-to-face trainings. In addition, the team is working with the Ministry of Education to develop national competency and credentialing systems for teachers and school managers and is strengthening MoE systems and policies that support quality teaching.
On his last day of training in Kabul, Hafiz expressed optimism: “It’s true that many teachers in Afghanistan are not even familiar with the most basic classroom management skills,” he said. “But I do think our work — these trainings — they are making a difference.  More than just changing teacher behaviors, teachers in the provinces they are starting to love teaching.”

—Alison Long, BESST External Relations Manager, in Afghanistan.

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