Following a successful partnership with the Al Fatah School, one of the largest girls' schools in Kabul, the Womanity Foundation is developing and replicating the School in a Box model in 11 schools across Afghanistan through 2014. Selected institutions are public schools for girls that include secondary education, are based in relatively safe areas, ensure geographic diversity, and are supported by the community.
The School in a Box model consists of three core building blocks, involving a range of services tailored to the particular needs of each participating school:
- School support (teacher training and infrastructure improvement) - The Womanity Foundation partners with NGOs, the Ministry of Education, and local organizations to provide teacher training in English, Dari, Pashto, information and communication technology (ICT), management skills, and teaching methodology. The program also equips science labs, libraries, playgrounds, and gymnasiums; renovates hygiene facilities; and ensures access to safe drinking water.
- Student counseling (in partnership with Afghanistan Libre) - Individual and group counseling helps identify and discuss any problems or difficulties that may be impeding girls' academic success. Counseling sessions frequently involve family members and school staff.
- Community engagement - Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and student councils play an important role in improving the learning environment and facilitating communication with the greater community. Last year, they helped identify and enroll out-of-school girls in the area and overcome some school challenges. The program often reaches out to the community to decide on school activities and ensures respect for cultural traditions while advocating for girls' education and women's empowerment.
In addition to these core components, the School in a Box model also includes:
- Sports and physical education program - Features training for sports instructors, games to help build girls' confidence and leadership skills, and educational activities to prevent violence against women
- Health and Hygiene program - Promotes good hygiene and health practices
- Support for higher education (in partnership with Afghanistan Libre) - Includes a tutoring class to prepare students for the national entrance exams for college and provides 8 annual university scholarships for deserving female students
In the future, the Womanity Foundation hopes to expand the vocational training program now piloted in two schools, incorporate international standardized testing to assess students' learning achievements, and organize peer learning networks among schools.
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CEI approaches in action
The program plans to expand to 3 additional schools in 2015.
The Womanity Foundation originally worked with the Al Fatah School for girls from 2007 to 2011. Since late 2011, the School in a Box model has been replicated in 11 new schools and reached a total of 12 schools in 2015, with plans to expand to 3 more.
Through the School in a Box model, Womanity aims to support each participating school for 3 years. In the short-term, the foundation intends to enroll 3 to 6 new schools by 2016 and prove the validity of the model. In the long-term, the foundation plans to partner with larger organizations to implement the model on a greater scale or continue replicating it in additional schools.
Monitoring & Evaluation
The Womanity Foundation uses a number of tools developed internally to monitor its results at both the micro- and macro-levels. Based on these tools, staff monitors school activities, teachers, trainers and staff, the use and quality of school facilities, and the hygiene program on regular school visits. Additionally, staff visits individual classrooms to observe teachers and score them according to a number of criteria, such as behavior towards students and teaching methodology. Based on the results of these observations, additional or corrective activities are planned as needed. Pre-tests and post-tests in teacher training sessions measure teachers' knowledge improvement. The program also tracks attendance, dropout rates, grades, board exam scores and is currently looking to implement standardized learning assessments (EGRA, PISA). Mid-term evaluations and surveys at the end of each year provide additional qualitative feedback.
Standardized Assessment Performance - Other | In 2013, 53.5% of students in grade 12 took the university entrance exams. 55% of these students passed, compared with only 25% in 2012. In 2011, the Al Fatah School scored among the top 5 schools in the country and was the only girls' school to do so. 1,019 students (10%) passed the 2012 school year with marks of 70 or greater compared with only 712 students (7.45%) in 2011.
Student retention for the 2012 academic year was 95%.
(Note: Since 2012 was the first academic year that schools received Womanity's support, the Foundation is unable to determine if the 5% dropout rate was due to demographic shifts, dropout rates from past years not previously counted, or dropout rates from the 2012 academic year alone.)
In 2012, 610 teachers and 62 staff were trained in mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, English, Dari, Pashto, and information technology with a 95% attendance rate. On average, teachers' scores improved by 40% from pre-tests to post-tests. In 2013 (to date), 243 teachers and staff attended the similar training sessions with an overall attendance rate of 84%. Trainees' scores improved, on average, by 31% from pre-tests to post-tests.
In 2012, 78 teachers were trained in 5 physical education training sessions.
In 2012, several group counseling and awareness sessions addressed 178 students, 351 teachers, and 158 parents. 53 individual students and teachers received counseling with 13 cases including family mediation.
In 2012, 6 students received scholarships to attend the university in Kabul. Five students finished the year with an average grade of 81, while the sixth student left the country to study abroad.