We met with community learning center teachers in November 2009 to discuss how they were doing. Without exception the teachers were very happy. They had not been threatened by the Taliban. They teach in villages near Kabul, which are much more difficult for the Taliban to penetrate. They commented on how important it was that we provided school supplies where needed, including pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, rulers etc. They were also pleased that we had replaced their old textbooks with new textbooks, approved by the Ministry of Education.
The lack of school supplies and textbooks in many of the schools is astounding. It costs us around $2.00 per month per student to provide supplies and textbooks. As much as someone might think the parents should be expected to pay these costs, it doesn’t make sense to hold out. Many children would go without. The teachers tell us that many families simply don’t have the money. Not difficult to believe considering Afghanistan’s annual per capita income is an average $800. Fortunately, we have the financial stability to help.
We always ask the teachers what recommendations they have to improve or add to our educational programs. During one session we inquired whether they would like us to provide courses for their better students during the winter. The “fast track” idea got the “swift boot.”
- “The better students are good for the slower students.”
- “They provide healthy competition in the classroom.”
- “They help the other students.”
- “They are good role models.”
- “They are better behaved.”
- “They should learn with the other students.”
The teachers were passionate about this issue. They spoke, we listened and we all learned from the exchange.
For several years TIE has been able to give the teachers a year-end bonus, equal to one month’s salary. Increasing teacher income is directly assisted by the Teacher-to-Teacher program (link) started by Rozan Gautier a couple of years ago. We promised the teachers who contribute to this fund to use their money to increase teacher salaries. Teacher salaries have risen from $60 a month to $100 over the past two years, in part due to the Teacher-to-Teacher program.