Transforming Education: How Improving Educational Environment Leads to Better Results

In Yemen, over 2.7 million school-aged girls and boys are out of school, and many of the 1.5 million displaced children in the country have had their education suddenly cut due to multiple displacements. Girls and boys in areas of high displacement are forced to cope with overcrowded classrooms and overburdened and unequipped teachers.

Despite the protracted conflict and disruption of education in Yemen, Rema* is one of many Yemeni teachers and educators who continue to pursue their mission of educating future generations. She teaches at Fowz* School for Girls in Lahj Governorate. She has also dedicated herself to educating the displaced and the most vulnerable children for many years.

“Teachers work in difficult conditions, with insufficient classrooms, furniture, and educational materials. We tried to maintain what we could of the furniture in school using our own money and sometimes the donations provided to support our school and purchase supplies,” says Rema.

Rema* with her students. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.

Fowz School is located in an impoverished, densely populated area in Lahj Governorate. Due to the increased flux of internal displacement to the area, the school lacked sufficient spaces, facilities, and equipment and could not accommodate new students.

To facilitate better access to education, particularly for girls, CARE, with funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), has rehabilitated six schools in Lahj Governate, benefiting over 3,600 students. The rehabilitation included major construction and renovations for classrooms, buildings, and sanitation facilities in the selected schools.

"CARE built three new classrooms in our school," says Rema. "They also fixed the water and sanitation systems, repaired some structures in the building, replaced the broken doors and furniture, and painted the walls."

Students learn in the new classroom. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.

CARE has worked with the Office of Education in Lahj to train 56 male teachers and 34 female teachers, including Rema, on Teachers in Crisis Context (TiCC), active learning, and classroom management to improve education quality. After the training, participant teachers received teacher kits that included pens, lesson preparation notebooks, attendance and registration sheets, and much-needed items to ensure the quality of lessons.

“In teachers' training, we started with learning active learning strategies as well as teaching and collaboration strategies that help keep students active and attentive throughout the entire semester through brainstorming questions. Such training stimulates teachers’ thinking,” adds Rema.

“Our class was very crowded,” says 10-year-old Lamia*, a student at Fowz School. “Water was always dripping on us because the roof was old. There was no electricity or water in our school. And the bathrooms were damaged.”

10-year-old Lamia*, a student at Fowz School. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.

"Now we have a new classroom; the roof is fixed, and the furniture is new," adds Lamia. "Even the bathrooms are clean now, and we have clean water to drink." Despite living far from the school, Lamia is motivated to go to school every day. "When I come home, I study what we learned in school, and I feel happy because the next day, I'll go to school to see my friends and play with the toys our teacher gave us in class," says Lamia, referring to the educational and recreational materials the project provided for her school.

In addition to providing educational materials, the project furnished and equipped the school clinic at Fawz School with much-needed first-aid kits and beds. "In the past, if a student had a minor accident at school, we would find nothing to help them walk a long distance to reach the nearest health center, and we needed to accompany them," she said. "The project has prepared a medical room in the school to serve as a clinic with a bed, medicine, and first aid supplies so that we can provide first aid treatment to students when needed."

Lamia receives a first-aid bandage at the school clinic after cutting her finger. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

For enthusiastic teachers like Rema, the rehabilitation of schools is an excellent opportunity to convince families to send their children to school, as rehabilitated schools provide a safe, comfortable, and fun environment for children to learn and to unlock their future potential. "We were hoping to have enough and appropriate classes for the students. And now I feel satisfied because the situation has changed immensely. I expect many girls to return to education because the new classrooms can accommodate them and we have toilets inside the school," concludes Rema.

The new classrooms at Fowz* School. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.

Main photo: Lamia and her classmates in their new classroom. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities.

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