Story and pictures provided by Child-to-Child Trust
Low primary school enrolment and retention rates are one of the biggest challenges for children in Yemen, where access to preschool is limited and in some areas non-existent.
The Getting Ready for School (GRS): A Child-to-Child Approach was introduced in the country in 2007 as part of a global pilot programme with participating countries from around the world. It has two main goals: to prepare children for on-time school enrolment and to prepare schools for receiving younger children. Since then, 15 schools have joined the programme.
For more than 1,650 young learners in Yemen, being part of the GRS programme means not only to start school on time, but also to start on a good foundation. Coming mostly from poor or disadvantaged backgrounds with no opportunities for pre-school education, these children are gaining language, numeracy, literacy, social and emotional skills, as well confidence and motivation.
On the other hand, the program is also beneficial to the older children known as young facilitators, who are the ones helping young learners get ready for school. By doing so, the older children are enhancing their learning, improving their confidence and developing a sense of responsibility. Some parents have reported that the behaviour of the older children has positively changed, especially in how they interact with their younger brothers and sisters.
Through the project, 34 teachers have acquired knowledge and skills on early childhood dev. In addition, they have received training on activity-based teaching methods such as storytelling, puppetry and role play. Children are taught how to use natural, readily available and low-cost materials such as twigs, seeds, leaves and stones.
In addition, the programme has invested in improving the learning environments. Classrooms are now brightly decorated, exhibiting children and teachers’ art work. Children have also produced their own local books, stories and puppets.
“I was using rote methods in teaching before the training,” said Mr. Adil M. Abdullah, a teacher working for the GRS programme at the Taiz district, “but now I am using active methods and creating materials for work with children.” He met with representatives of the Child–to-Child Trust in January 2011 during their monitoring visit. Mr. Adil M. Abdullah proudly showed them a classroom fully decorated in materials he had made with the children using resources provided by UNICEF.
Teaching materials such as storybooks, puzzles, picture and word count games have made classes more interesting and easier to teach. As a result, the retention has improved and teachers have a better chance of completing the school curriculum on time. Furthermore, effective teamwork of teachers and children are now established and work together on different activities. The results are evident: in this school, the enrolment increased from 35-40 students before the programme to 100 children five years alter.
Witnessing the positive results of this programme, families have offered spaces in their homes for young learners and facilitators to get together and learn. The GRS programme is successfully building stronger relations between schools, families and the community.