Save the Children Federation

Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children. Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
May 19, 2011

Teaching Lessons of Hope in a Country Weary of War

Photo credit: Mats Lignell / Save the Children
Photo credit: Mats Lignell / Save the Children

20-year-old Shukria has a mission: to educate and restore hope to a generation of girls living with the legacy of war and conflict. She is on her way to fulfill that mission with the help of Save the Children’s teacher training programs.  

Becoming a teacher may seem like an easily achievable dream for many people around the world, but for the young women living in Afghanistan – a country battered by years of war - it is a dream fraught with challenges.

Yet, there are the few hundreds who dare to pursue that dream, undeterred by rampant violence, poor living conditions, cultural restrictions and gender discrimination.  With courage and a dogged will to rebuild broken lives and communities, they are the women who have the potential of uplifting their nation - one teacher at a time - as they seek to educate young girls and pass on the ultimate lesson in life: hope, and the good that comes out of it.

One of these young women is Shukria, a 20-year-old who lives with her parents, two brothers and a sister in one of the many villages along a dusty, uneven road in Bamyan province. A determined woman who persevered in school and is now in the 12th grade, she has nurtured the idea of teaching all her life, and jumped at the opportunity when she learned of a teacher training program introduced by Save the Children in her village.

In Afghanistan, only 28% of teachers are women. There is an urgent need to encourage and train young women to become teachers, especially in light of recent Save the Children studies that show how much more effective female teachers are at increasing the enrollment rate of girls beyond grades 3 and 4.

 “When I joined the training program, I felt that I was finally given a chance to make my dreams come true. I have always wanted to be a teacher since I was a child,” Shukria said. “Very few women in Afghanistan become teachers and we need to change the system in our schools. The system is old-fashioned, cruel and includes methods like beating, insulting, punishing and discriminating against other children”. Shukria commented that as a result, many children do not go beyond primary school.

Since Shukria participated in Save the Children’s teacher training program, she has received training in new teaching methodologies, observed and learned from other teachers, and practiced teaching classes. On a typical day, the sessions she attends are run by two Save the Children trainers, usually one female and one male. Tacked on the walls are several flipcharts that show a jumble of ideas – a result of lively productive brainstorming on issues such as child rights, and factors contributing to early marriage among young Afghan girls.

When recalling the first experience she had standing in front of a group of students, she said, “I will never forget that experience. There was no order in the classroom, but, I was able to control and manage the class, using the methods I learned from Save the Children’s teacher training program”.

The path to being educated, much less becoming a teacher, has been long and difficult, not only for Shukria but for the generation before her. Her mother, Zahra, 35 years old, was forced to flee to Iran when she was only in the 4th grade due to internal fighting among different factions in the village where she lived. Her father is uneducated, and calls himself “like a blind man because I can’t read or write”. Shukria’s parents have faced criticism from relatives and neighbors who have opposed her aspiration to become a teacher.

Shukria’s father said, “One of the reasons our country is suffering from war and other man-made disasters is ignorance of people. If they are educated, I am completely sure that we will never let anyone interfere in our country’s affairs. I hope that one day my daughter becomes a famous and professional teacher in the village”.

More About the Save the Children’s Teacher Training Programs

Save the Children recognizes that there are gaps in the educational system in Afghanistan that have prevented many girls to come to school, and even less so, become teachers.  To address this gap, the organization is running a pilot program in Bamyan province, a teacher training program that aims to increase girls’ participation in school, enable young women to play more of a role in basic education, and prepare them for responsible roles in society. With the assistance of the Bamyan Provincial Department, Save the Children is currently training 240 female students in grades 10 to 12 in two districts to become teachers or teaching assistants.

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Apr 21, 2011

Our Achievements in 2009-2010

Our Achievements in 2009-2010

  • See Where the Good Goes Campaign: Launched in June, See Where the Good Goes mobilizes citizen action in the U.S. to support local health care workers and community clinics worldwide in helping save more children from preventable or treatable illnesses.
  • Haiti Earthquake Disaster: Since the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, Save the Children has coordinated with Haitian authorities, the international community, local and international organizations and communities to reach an estimated 682,000 children and adults with lifesaving and life-sustaining assistance.
  • Rewrite the Future Campaign: Since 2006, Rewrite the Future has reached more than 12 million children in conflict-affected countries with access to improved education. Overall, the program has succeeded in enrolling one million children in school, the equivalent of opening two schools every day.
  • Child Hunger Crisis: By mid 2010, Save the Children had already surpassed its total 2009 child hunger program revenue, serving some of the hardest-hit countries, including Haiti, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Malawi.
  • Preventing HIV/AIDS: Save the Children’s collaboration with the government in Bangladesh provided messages and youth-friendly health services to 700,000 young people to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. In Africa, Save the Children has instituted rigorous standards in the communities it supports for the care of orphans and vulnerable children. Save the Children now reaches 37 million children in 14 countries with these and other services.
  • School Health and Nutrition: Our School Health and Nutrition activities have helped more than 2 million children in 20 countries become healthier and better prepared to learn. Children who are undernourished or sick miss classes and fall behind in learning.
  • Building Public Support for Children: Save the Children has established itself as a leader in influencing polices and increasing resources toward the improvement of global child survival and resolution of the child hunger crisis. Advocacy based on our State of the World’s Mothers Report, which focused on health workers in the developing world, helped to win new commitments from the U.S. Congress for President Barack Obama’s Global Health Initiative. With the report and the push for the Global Health Initiative, which includes child health and nutrition programs, Save the Children has successfully channeled U.S government resources and policies to fight the problems of inadequate health care, nutrition, education and protection on behalf of children around the world.
  • Programs for Children in the United States: Save the Children provides high-quality early childhood development, literacy, and physical activity and nutrition programs to more than 21,000 children in underserved, rural communities in 14 states. Additionally, our disaster preparedness programs are helping at-risk communities across the country lay the groundwork for future emergencies. Save the Children’s U.S. Programs recently released a new report that revealed that 38 states and the District of Columbia have not enacted basic safeguards to protect children in school or child care during disasters. This year, Save the Children pushed for states to adopt four minimum standards to protect kids in disasters, as well as for federal passage of the Child Safety, Care and Education Continuity Act of 2010 (H.R. 5240/S. 2898). We also launched k2kUSA, an online campaign for kids to be advocates for each other and ensure every child a fair chance in life. Save the Children’s U.S. Programs was featured on American Idol’s Idol Gives Back telethon, which raised more than $45 million for our plan to help children living in rural poverty in the U.S.
Apr 20, 2011

Save the Children Report from Bangladesh

At the Baliapur primary school, 530 students share a single pit latrine. The toilet is old that it can no longer be cleaned easily; the smell is unbearable and permeates across the school yard. Dr. Ataur Rahman of Save the Children’s School Health and Nutrition Program in Bangladesh explains “the latrine is so dirty that children and teachers rarely use it. Instead, they leave school to use toilets at home, missing important time in the classroom. And, if children do use the latrine, it is difficult to wash their hands after as the hand pump is located at a distance.” It was here that Save the Children’s Global Giving campaign for water and sanitation began with a video between children in Baliapur, Bangladesh, and children in Arlington, Virginia. The schools are now corresponding.

Last week, Dr. Ataur and others from Save the Children’s School Health and Nutrition team visited a school about one hour from Baliapur- Nikrail Primary School. The purpose of their visit was to orient teachers, school management committee members, parents and others to the new School Health and Nutrition Program which would bring hygiene education, health services i.e deworming, vitamin A & iron supplementation, vision screening, first aid and other essential services to the school.

“Teachers, parents and school administrators were very excited about the new program,” says Dr. Ataur. “We know from experience that increasing knowledge and awareness goes a long way in preventing the illnesses which make it difficult for children to attend school and to learn. But infrastructure is also critical- it is the hope of parents in Nikrail, and hundreds of other schools like it, that we will mobilize the resources to ensure every school child has access to a clean toilet and safe water.”


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