Leaving No Child Behind

author-portrait_rupa-gautam-media-and-communication-officerRupa Gautam

Media and Communication Officer

Save the Children Nepal-Bhutan

October 12, 2016

It was during one of my regular visits to a Sponsorship supported school when I met Kajal. Attentive, curious, interactive and joyful, Kajal was participating in all her class activities with great enthusiasm. She looked like all the other kids throughout the class, reading and writing alongside her classmates. It wasn’t until she walked up to her teacher with a question that I realized that her legs were weak and uneven, and that she could not walk properly.

kajal-practicing-newly-learned-words
Kajal practicing newly learned words.

I wanted to know more about this bright eyed girl. So, I inquired about her with her teacher. Her teacher excitedly shared that their village, with a total of six schools, would not have reached their milestone of 100% enrollment in the current academic year if Kajal had been left behind at home, like she was the previous year.

Save the Children has been very persistent in getting every last child enrolled in school. Seven-year-old Kajal used to stay at home while the rest of her family, made up of her parents and two elder siblings, went about their own business outside of the house. Nobody in her family believed that schooling would do her any good, due to her condition.

Kajal showed me how she wrote her name. Her name means kohl, which is used to line one’s eyes in Nepal. She also showed me her drawings and read to me from her grade one book. Since she did not go to Save the Children’s Early Childhood Care and Development center before grade one, like so many of the other kids in her community did, she has a little difficulty in reading and writing. But Kajal doesn’t let that stop her from learning. I saw this myself – when she had trouble writing a word she didn’t know, she asked for my help, then shyly handed me her paper and asked if I would check her classwork.

Every year, out-of-school children are identified in the communities where we work.

Kajal (first left) engaged in the days lesson
Kajal (first left) engaged in the days lesson.

We reach out to their parents and advise them about the importance of enrolling their children in school. Those out-of-school children, which often includes children with special needs like Kajal, are brought to school with sponsorship supported programming that includes parent orientations, door-to-door visits, counseling sessions and educational material support to ensure that no child is left behind at home.

Kajal’s success is just the beginning of what we hope to achieve for the children of Nepal. All of us here at Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan are eager to continue working in these areas – to commit each parent to sending all their sons and daughters to school. And with our sponsors by our side, they will, because every last child matters.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

A Teacher’s Process

Author Portrait_2_Mirvat Mahran, Early Childhood Care and Development Teacher
Mirvat Mahran

Early Childhood Care and Development Teacher

Save the Children Egypt

September 1, 2016

 

I’m Mirvat Mahran, a teacher at one the preschools supported by Sponsorship, in a village called Arab AlQadadeh in Egypt.

My preschool takes part in Sponsorship’s Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program, which targets children under the age of 6. This program focuses on the development of young children to ensure they enter primary school with the skills they need for school success. Through activities like interactive games, songs, storytelling, social interaction and outdoor play, we help make sure children grow and thrive. In remote areas, where this important stage of life is often neglected, the ECCD program helps get children excited about education and thus increases enrollments in primary school.

On a regular work day, I perform activities with children to help build their social skills and teach them the basics they need to be ready for school. We welcome everybody, and in particular give special care to children with disabilities.

One of the children who joined us a while ago is Rania, a 5-year-old and very sweet little girl. Her mother tells us that before enrolling in ECCD, Rania always refused to talk or express herself. She wasn’t able to count to ten, didn’t know names of familiar animals, wasn’t able to identify names of many common objects to her surroundings and wasn’t able to put sentences together correctly. Her mother came to realize that she was significantly behind in language development.

Rania and the other kids clap along to a group activity led by their teacher, Mirvat
Rania and the other kids clap along to a group activity led by their teacher, Mirvat.

As a mother, she was willing to do whatever it took to help her daughter. She thought that a preschool might be the answer, and so decided to enroll Rania in a Save the Children supported preschool. As Rania’s new teacher, she explained to me her child’s issues and that she believed Rania had lost her self-confidence due to the laughter and criticism she endured from her peers. My biggest challenge with Rania was that I needed to avoid the same thing happening twice, so I had to welcome her very carefully, building her capacity using ECCD’s multi-activities package which is designed to promote the cognitive, physical, language and psycho-social skills of children her age.

I talked to her about the activities that the children here do to figure out what she loves best. She asked to play in the art corner and after she’d finished her drawing I asked her to describe it. I encouraged her to talk by giving her the impression that I understood her comprehensively. Gradually, I started to correct her and teach her the proper pronunciation of letters. In this way, her language skills developed as did her comfort in the classroom.

She began participating in our classroom’s reading corner, where she enjoyed reading and acting stories out in front of the other children. With her self-confidence rebuilt, she started to take part in the collective games, like playing with, and sharing, blocks and preforming plays with the other children.

Rania presents in front of her classmates
Rania presents in front of her classmates.

Now, Rania is able to clearly communicate and understand the others. I feel so happy for having a positive impact on her life. I felt responsible for her since the moment her mother came to me asking for help. I doubted myself at times, but the trainings I had received with Save the Children built a solid foundation that I relied on, and continue to rely on. Many of the mothers in our village turn to me whenever they face problems with their children. Now, I’m proud to say that Rania is looking forward to moving onto primary school next year!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

My First Field Visit

Charity

Charity Banda

SHN program Officer

Lufwanyama. Zambia

April 6, 2015

 

I recently joined the sponsorship team as SHN Program Officer after having worked with Save the Children as Training Coordinator under the Health project. This was my first visit to a center that is being supported under the sponsorship program. I was looking forward to seeing what really goes on.

The first Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) center we visited is at slab level and the community school is at footing level. The next ECCD centre we visited is at roof level. The team I travelled with praises the volunteers for the works that are looking proficiently done and moving at a good pace. The volunteer teachers and builders from the ECCD centre and the community school are very happy and inform the visiting team that the community has already organized more sand and stones and are anxiously waiting for the rains to subside in order for them to continue with the construction works.

The ECCD teacher tells the team that the attendance has been low for the past two days because children are afraid of attending school for fear of the stray dogs that have been terrorizing the community members. However, the officers from the Veterinary Department have been to the area to try and arrest the situation.

I am wondering why they are so excited when the works are just at slab and footing levels and far from completion, they tell me they know that they will soon have a safe place to teach and learn from unlike the past when the structures they were using were almost death traps for both the children and pupils, they say they cannot wait for the day these will be completed.

Sponsorship Programs in Zambia supports construction and rehabilitation of some ECCD centers and Community schools in Lufwanyama District to provide a quality learning environment. St Joseph’s is one of the communities were such constructions are taking place. The community’s contributions towards constructions or rehabilitation works are sand, stones and unskilled labor. Save the children program provides cement, roofing sheets, doors, glass panes, while Ministry of education provides skilled builders. In the mean time most children have their lessons from nearby local churches.

I am very excited and encouraged to be part of the team that will work with this community and help bring the much needed change to provide quality education to children. I can already see myself wanting to visit every month to follow up on the many good things I have seen and heard. Like the community, I can’t wait for the day these buildings will be complete and in use.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.