Teachers and Community Boost Afghan School to the Top

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Afghan children walk to school on the outskirts of Herat. AREF KARIMI / AFP - Getty Images

KHOST CITY – Teenagers wearing blue jerseys are playing volleyball in a muddy yard. The heat has prevented a large crowd from coming to the playground to watch the match. The few who are there sit under the shadow of trees, mostly laughing and chatting with each other instead of watching the game.

Mir Salah, 65, is the only person who eagerly claps and shouts enthusiastically for his students. The volleyball court is at the center of the Abdul Hai Habibi High School yard. As the match finishes, many other students join Salah in cheering on the players. “I see the school as my house and students as my children,” says Mir Salah, head teacher at the school.

Salah has been working for more than a decade at Abdul Hai Habibi High School in Khost city and has seen the vast improvements to it. “We had few facilities and there were challenges for both students and teachers to understand and teach the lessons well,” adds Salah as he walks toward a building with the students for the next lesson in the computer lab.

Students have traded tents for proper classrooms and enjoy the facilities of a science laboratory, library, and computer lab, thanks to support from the Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP). The school first received an EQUIP construction grant of $99,000 to construct an eight-classroom building in 2009. Two subsequent Quality Enhancement Grants (QEGs) totaling $6,000 enabled the school to equip its science and computer laboratories and library.

At the same time, nearly 70 out of the 137 teachers at the school received training through EQUIP, learning new teaching methods and ways to plan lessons efficiently. “Our teaching system is more student-centric and teachers encourage their students to take part in class activities,” says Salah.

The support has paid off for the school, which has over 6,600 students. “Through EQUIP support and the hard work of the teachers and community, our school has become one of the most famous and prestigious government schools in Khost Province,” Salah points out.

Increase Equitable Access

EQUIP, which closed in December 2017, sought to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls. It was implemented by the Ministry of Education and funded by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). EQUIP was originally supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries.

The World Bank is currently working with the Ministry of Education to prepare a follow-on project—EQRA. The objectives of the EQRA education project are to increase equitable access to primary and secondary education in selected provinces that are lagging behind, especially for girls, and to improve learning conditions in schools and transparency in the Ministry of Education’s resource management.

EQUIP started its work in Khost Province in 2004 with the aim to establish 349 School Management Shuras (councils) to bring communities and schools closer. The communities engage in school affairs and help resolve problems related to students’ parents, in addition to overseeing school activities.

The program constructed 39 school buildings across all 12 districts and the center of Khost Province. In total, schools in the province received 441 QEGs, with some having received the grant twice. Abdul Hai Habibi High School was one of the schools that received the QEG twice.

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