At first, the parents in Qanjugha Village (Afghanistan) were delighted that their sons were attending the new boys' high school, which had been a long time in coming. Qanjugha, one of many outlying settlements about six miles northeast of Shiberghan City in vastly underserved Jouzjan Province, had hoped for its own local school for years and with a new school finally established, parents and other villagers had reason to rejoice.
Anticipation, however, soon turned to concern for the parents. Their sons were coming home from school complaining that their teachers "did not know how to teach" and that they were not learning anything. The parents and village elders attempted to meet with school officials, but were turned away without an explanation. Angered that the officials were not interested in hearing their concerns, the parents began making arrangements for their sons to attend another school, even though it was further away and more difficult to reach.
Help the Afghan Children provided a workable intervention for the students, parents and school officials. As we investigated the problem, we discovered that the local teachers understood their subjects, but lacked basic facilitation skills in delivering quality instruction. However, we also discovered that parents and other concerned villagers had consistently been left out of the communication process with school officials, making them feel disrespected.
HTAC began working on two tracks. The first was to provide targeted teacher training workshops to better equip teachers in learning new ways to transfer knowledge and facilitate better learning. The second was establishing a framework for community/school dialogues where parents and other villagers could regularly meet with school officials and teachers, raise issues, get feedback and agree on ways to resolve problems and misperceptions.
To prevent meetings from dissolving into endless arguing, dialogue was structure to get the community and the school working together in seeking practical solutions with the goal of identifying a solution (or) making a decision for action at each meeting.
After several months of training the teachers and providing guidance at meetings, HTAC is pleased to report that the great majority of boys have returned to school and, for the first time, are enjoying their classes. There is still more work to be done at Qanjugha, but students are more motivated and parents are pleased that they are now full participants in community/school dialogues with school officials.
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