Their News [Archives:2008/1203/Local News]

October 30 2008

Girls' education project increases enrollment in Taiz
JICA's Supported Girls' Education Project succeeds in increasing both boy's and girls' student enrollment, promoting community participation in school improvement, and strengthening management capacities of local educational authorities.

On October 29, 2008, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) held the final workshop at Shahran Hotel, Sana'a City, to share the experiences and achievements of its 42-month technical cooperation project, “Broadening Regional Initiative for Developing Girls' Education (BRIDGE)” , which has been implemented with the assistance from Japanese Government in Taiz Governorate. Almost 120 key stakeholders including Mr. Abdusalam Al Goufi, Minister of Education, Ms. Fawzia Noaman, Deputy Minister of Education, MOE senior officials, BRIDGE Team in Taiz governorates, and GEO's Girls' Education managers and Community Participation managers from all the governorates and donors, participated in the workshop.

“BRIDGE guidelines for the whole school improvement initiative with a special focus on increasing girls' attendance in rural basic education in Taiz Governorate” were disseminated to the participants. The guidelines were developed through collaboration of Taiz GEO and JICA expert team based on the project experiences as one of the major achievements of the BRIDGE project. With the BRIDGE guidelines, Taiz GEO presented their achievements, lessons learned and their expansion plan. DEO representatives from Taiz also shared their experiences and changes occurred by the BRIDGE project at their target schools to share the impacts of the project.

One of the examples on how the BRIDGE project helped to increase girls' attendance is described in the following story, which was prepared by Ms. Basma Ali Bin Ali, a female contract teacher at Al Saeed School, Same District.

As shown in the article, the BRIDGE project has made significant impacts on the people at the target schools. One of the most effective activities was hiring contract teachers. BRIDGE allowed schools to recruit teachers from their community under the conditions that teachers should have completed at least secondary education, they are from the same community, and if there are both male and female candidates who meet these conditions, schools should hire female teachers. As a result, in 2007 172 teachers were contracted at the 59 target schools. Out of the the 172 teachers, 58 were female.

Female contract teachers became a role model to show female students the benefits of education and encouraged parents to send their daughters to schools. Even male teachers played indispensable roles. In the rural and disadvantaged schools, qualified female teachers cannot be found. In that case, local male teachers can teach female students since they are familiar with the community members. Schools tried to hire female teachers outside of the community, but found it difficult to keep these teachers due to the harsh living environment and high cost of transportation. Local teachers stayed in the community and attended schools everyday.

The BRIDGE's project goal was to increase the girls' enrollment rate at the 59 target schools, which was achieved by increasing female students' enrollment from 6,080 in 2004 to 9,307 in 2007, while male students' enrollment increased from 9,312 in 2004 to 11,958 in 2007. In this way, BRIDGE helped to increase both the number of female and male students. With a higher increase of female students, the female student to male student ratio was improved from 0.65 in 2004 to 0.78 in 2007.

BRIDGE also contributed to improve the school environment. The BRIDGE project provided direct funding to target schools in their bank accounts. JICA provided 84.5 million YER in the three years from 2005 to 2007 and Taiz Governorate provide 16.8 million YER in 2007. In addition, 7.6 million YER was mobilized by the community over the three years. This funding was used for hiring contract teachers, building and rehabilitating classrooms and school facilities, organizing school events and community awareness programs, and so on.

A major feature of BRIDGE is to combine whole school improvement and awareness raising program together. For example, schools opened literacy classes and sewing classes by using the funding to encourage women to come to school for education. At many schools, it was the women's first time to come to school, which helped to know what the school is for their children. It also helped female drop-outs to come back to school. In addition, BRIDGE helped to organize community leaders' initiatives and women's initiatives by organizing a separate meeting to discuss what the community people can do with the school to improve their school for their children. BRIDGE helped schools and communities learn about what actions they can take for the school. Even though the progress was step by step, women's participation in school activities were encouraged with support from the head teachers and community leaders.

Based on experiences of the BRIDGE project, Ministry of Education is initiating a national program on school based management throughout the country by providing operational cost directly to schools in the 2008/2009 school year. Ms. Fawzia Noaman, Deputy Minister of Education mentioned, “We learned from BRIDGE that schools can play important roles in improving girls' education at the school level through managing their own funding. This made us decide to implement a national program on school based management.”

Taiz Governorate has already started to implement the BRIDGE project with their own funding from 2007. In 2008, Taiz Governorate is providing 230,000YER to the same 59 schools which JICA supported. GEO Team successfully took over the roles of managing the BRIDGE project. In 2009, Taiz Governorate plans to expand the BRIDGE project in 60 new schools in three additional districts. Dr. Mahdi Ali Abdulsalam, Director, Taiz GEO emphasized, “The BRIDGE project helped our GEO and DEO team members to strengthen their management capacities, including reporting, conducting monitoring of the school funding, organizing meetings among schools and communities, and helping women to actively participate in school activities.

In addition, BRIDGE helped us to recognize the importance of establishing good relationships with local councils.”