My name is Ester Mwaba – a proud Zambian girl!

The following post followed a workshop on the Escuela Nueva model in Zambia.


My name is Ester Mwaba – a proud Zambian girl


Literacy and Book Making

The challenges for learning  in Muchinga province, Zambia are great!

If we take literacy, for example, many students cannot read some sentences in English at grade 7 , yet they have to take their primary leaving exam in English (at grade 7).

Although new Zambian government policy ensures that students can learn in their local language (Bemba, here in Muchinga) until grade 4, they still have to continue learning in a second language, English, even though some of their teachers may not be competent in English. Many homes do not have electricity, so do not have TV where they could at least be exposed to some English language programmes.

During the recent Escuela Nueva workshops  teachers were encouraged to make simple books for their ‘classroom library’  – just two weeks later and Ester was one of the students who caught the book making bug from her teacher. Let’s consider some of the steps they took to get this far.

Teachers were creative, once some simple examples were presented in the workshop ‘class library’:


One teacher was particularly creative in producing an ‘active’ book for use by pairs of students:


This book helps children to practice new words – one child will ask a question -“What is this?” the other child may answer “basket’ – who tries to write the word – they can then pull out the answer and check the spelling. It seems simple, but when you have over 100 children in a class, any activities which are more child centred are very welcome.

classLib2                                                bookmaking2

Following a few days of making some books – the three workshop ‘classes’ presented examples of their work in an ‘exhibition’.


The Book Exhibition

Some examples of other books made by participants:

book HIV

A book about the dangers of HIV/AIDS –  a disease that is well known in most villages -resulting in many orphans.


A book about “My School”



Making a science book.


Making the ‘My village’ book


Presenting the results of book making


wordlist forest concept2

Students often come to a paragraph or short story with little knowledge of the key words  – they often get stuck, while reading a sentence by an unknown word.

Thus they rarely gain fluency in reading and therefore find the sentence ‘meaningless’.

This book listed new words and then developed the meaning of these key words through drawings and explanations.

At the end of the book is the story – now students can read fluently as they already know all the main words and their meanings.



Activity books were particularly popular as they can be used with pairs and small groups without the intervention of the teacher -therefore they are ‘self directed’ books.


activitybook3house questionbook

Teachers had many ideas about making activity books which could be used by students working in pairs or threes.

A simple flap , once opened can reveal answers to questions that students will ask their group members.

copperativegroupbook treeactivity2 activitybooktree




Pop up books added variation and interest in book making:


popup3 popupcomm


When the stapler got stuck – we looked round for alternative bindings -anything from small sticks, to palm leaves and some even took up sewing!

palmbind2 palmforbinding


protectenv2cover st palmbind


protecttheenvironment  Another proud book maker


envcoverNew A4envbook A4env3

A ‘one sheet’ book – it folds out when you open it


A fold -out book about colours:

colour book



Small is beautiful……


A small book about George the tadpole…….

george1tadpole george2 george3 george4


Following the workshops, teachers immediately got to work -preparing some books to inspire the students..and helping students to make their own books.

This part of the teachers’ workshop showed immediate outcomes -just one week later…..


This is Boston -he tore the corner from his exercise book and created his own dictionary of English words!

Groups worked cooperatively -some planning, some thinking, some writing , some drawing – then putting together their own book.

Pictured below -proud book makers!

bookmakingschool bookpride bookpride2 bookmakers5 bookmakers6 bookmake7


Proudly reading her book to the rest of the class.


And in another school:

From no books …….to our own books and our own library, in just one week!


DSCN7969 DSCN7971 DSCN7974

Grandfather loves to dance…..



and this is the teacher who inspired and encouraged them…


and more activity books….

workbook3 workbook2 workbook1


A seed identification book.


In April there will be a second workshop in Muchinga Province -we look forward to hearing how well the teachers and students have been doing during these last few months.

Sierra Leone “Emerging Issues” Teacher Training Programme

From the INEE newsletter a report from UNICEF

In 2008, UNICEF, together with the Sierra Leone Ministry of Education and the national Teacher Training institutions, developed the “Emerging Issues” Teacher Training Programme. The content of the “Emerging Issues” course includes Human Rights, Citizenship, Peace, Environment, Reproductive Health, Drug Abuse, Gender Equity and Disaster Management. The working group felt that methodology topics (Education Theory, Classroom Management, Teachers as Agents of Change) were vital for the teacher trainees as well.

this resource can be found here

Gender violence -16 days of activism

Gender based violence has been going on for tool long and no matter what work has been done to challenge this, in gtained attitudes and beliefs take a long time to change. Education from pre–school on has to take some responsibility for developing healthy attitudes for the next generation and to break into intergenerational violence.

INEE has brought our  attention to the 16 days of activism to try to achieve another step forward.


Gender-based violence is a human rights violation that impacts individual well-being and empowerment and leads to a myriad of social problems. Worldwide, up to one in five women and one in 10 men report experiencing sexual abuse as children; children subjected to sexual abuse are much more likely to encounter other forms of abuse later in life. Violence against women particularly negatively impacts girls’ access to education. According to the EFA Global Monitoring Report on Gender and Education for All, gender-based violence is a major reason for underachievement and high dropout rates of girls from school, perpetuating the gender gap.


Each year groups around the world join together to speak out against gender violence during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign. Starting with The International Day to End Violence Against Women (November 25) until International Human Rights Day (December 10), people come together to try to end the violence that takes place against girls and women. This year, the theme of the 16 Days of Activism, is one of empowerment: Commit. Act. Demand. We CAN End Violence Against Women.


Safe, quality education is key to ending violence against girls and women, boys and men

According to the Brussels Working Group on Violence against Women in Conflict, violence or the threat of violence in or around schools can prevent girls and young women from attending school and female teachers from doing their job. Boys and men can also become targets of gender-based violence, particularly in conflict-affected contexts where abduction and recruitment into armed forces can be a major risk.  The types of violence male and female learners in crisis contexts may experience include verbal abuse, bullying, humiliation, stigmatization, corporal punishment, physical or sexual assault, sexual harassment, rape and abduction.


Safe learning environments that offer protection to both student and teachers are a critical component of quality education. Through quality, inclusive education, learners come to know and understand their rights in order to lead lives free of sexual violence and abuse. The education sector can also play an integral role in sensitizing communities to end gender based violence.


Education is an important protection measure during all phases of crises:

  • When creating safe spaces and “zones of peace,” education plays an important role in physical and psychosocial protection. The normality and routine provided by daily schooling is a stabilising and crucial factor for children and young people’s development.
  • Deployment and retention of female teachers can enhance protection, as female teachers are often seen as contributing to greater security for girls in school.
  • Schools are effective sites for education on such issues as HIV/AIDS, landmines, human rights, tolerance, and non-violent conflict resolution, and can educate learners on how to access health and social support resources, particularly if sexual violence has occurred.
  • Education may contribute to positively altering social dynamics when curricula and textbooks are free of abusive and sexist messages, and display girls and boys, women and men as equally valued and active.

Download the INEE Pocket Guide to Gender, which outlines useful principles for a gender-responsive approach to guide all education programming, provides responses to some of the most common misconceptions and arguments against gender mainstreaming in the education sector and gives concrete strategies for ensuring gender-responsive programming across all domains of an education response. 

Download the INEE Thematic Guide on Gender-Base Violence, a collection of practical tools and resources from the INEE Minimum Standards Toolkit. This includes a Strategy Sheet on Preventing and Responding to Gender Based Violence In and Through Education.

Join the INEE Gender Task Team

Organise your own 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence events or activities. Click here to learn more about the campaign and see below for additional information on how to get involved.

Read and share two relevant blog posts in which author, Siobhàn Foran, GenCap Advisor for Global Clusters, discusses issues of gender and gender based violence in education:

and some more related resources:

INEE Pocket Guide to Gender

The INEE Pocket Guide to Gender complements the INEE Minimum Standards for Education and the IASC Gender Handbook, listed below, and is intended for anyone working to provide, manage, or support gender-responsive education services as part of emergency preparedness, response or recovery.

Women, Girls, Boys and Men: Different Needs – Equal Opportunities. IASC Gender Handbook in Humanitarian Action

In the rush to provide humanitarian response when a disaster hits or a conflict erupts, the appeal to “pay attention to gender issues” often falls on deaf ears and may seem irrelevant. It is not. “Paying attention to gender issues” or putting on a “gender lens” quite simply means recognizing the different needs, capacities and contributions of women, girls, boys and men. Ignoring or being blind to these different needs can have serious implications for the protection and survival of people caught up in humanitarian crises. This Handbook sets forth standards for the integration of gender issues from the outset of a new complex emergency or disaster, so that humanitarian services provided neither exacerbate nor inadvertently put people at risk; reach their target audience; and have maximum positive impact.


The handbook is available in Arabic, English French, Russian and Spanish, and can be down-loaded from the right-hand column on the IASC Gender front page.
Education Module of the IASC Gender E-Learning Tool

The IASC Gender Sub-Working Group (SWG) on Gender and Humanitarian Action, in collaboration with InterAction, has developed an e-learning course to help humanitarian workers mainstream gender strategies into their work.  This course is based on the IASC Gender Handbook (listed above) and provides illustrative examples to help you learn how to develop programming that ensures the needs and capacities of women, girls, boys and men are met in humanitarian situations.

The INEE Gender Task Team advocated to ensure that an Education section was included in this e-tool and then supported the development of the Education Section of the course.


Click here to access the course.
Click here for a video trailer about the tool.

Toolkit for Promoting Gender Equality in Education

Produced By: UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Bangkok


This Toolkit integrates existing information and tools designed by other national or international organizations dedicated to promoting and providing training on gender equality in education and other sectors. Further information from these sources is obtained by consulting the references section at the end of the Toolkit.


The Toolkit is designed as a user-friendly resource. As such, a matrix is provided on to indicate each tool’s potential for use, based on its relevance to each prospective user group. Still, every tool will have relevance to many contexts or situations and, it is therefore encourage to make use of all the materials by adapting them to a specific country context.

Training Package: Gender and Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Recovery
Produced by IRC on behalf of the INEE Gender Task Team

The IRC has developed a training package based on Gender Task Team trainings carried out in 2008. The training package features:

  • Facilitators’ Guide
  • Training Session Power Points
  • Handouts and Background Resources
  • Existing gender frameworks, tools and strategies
  • Links to INEE Minimum Standards, Sphere Minimum Standards and IASC Guidelines

The full package is available online here. To request a CD-Rom email with your full mailing address and the number of copies required. Download a flyer with more information about the training here.

Working with young women; empowerment, rights and health
Authors: Ricardo,C.; et,al; Produced by: Instituto PROMUNDO

This manual, part of an initiative called Program M, includes a series of group educational activities to promote young women’s awareness about gender inequities, rights and health. It also seeks to develop their skills to feel more capable of acting in empowered ways in different spheres of their lives.

All of the activities draw on an experiential learning model in which young women are encouraged to question and analyse their own experiences and lives, in order to understand how gender can perpetuate unequal power in relationships, and make both young women and men vulnerable to sexual and reproductive health problems, including HIV/AIDS. The activities engage young women to share ideas and opinions and think about how they can make positive changes in their lives and communities.

Engaging Boys and Men in GBV Prevention and Reproductive Health in Conflict and Emergency-Response Settings – A Workshop Module
Authors: CARE/EngenderHealth, Produced by: USAID and The Archive Project

This is a training guide for a two-day skill-building workshop to introduce participants to the topic of engaging boys and men in reproductive health in conflict and emergency-response settings. The module includes a facilitator’s guide, handouts, slides for presentations, and participant resources for additional reading. The module is intended for personnel working in conflict and other emergency-response settings who are interested in engaging boys and men in gender-based violence prevention and reproductive health. It is appropriate for staff that have had some training in gender, gender-based violence prevention, and reproductive health.

USAID’s Student, Community Counselor and Teacher Programs to Reduce Gender-Based Violence in Schools
SafeSchools Program, USAID

USAID’s Office of Women in Development is pleased to announce the release of the Doorways training manuals.  The manuals, developed under the USAID-funded Safe Schools Program, were designed to make classrooms safer and more conducive environments for student retention and learning.  The set of manuals can be integrated into existing programs for teacher training, Parent Teacher Association strengthening, scholarships, support to orphans and vulnerable children, and HIV prevention education or as part of a comprehensive national or local plan to reduce gender-based violence against children.  Piloted in Ghanaand Malawi, students (ages 10-14) and adults who participated in the programs demonstrated positive changes in attitudes and knowledge concerning gender-based violence.   The manuals and accompanying resource booklets can be found here:

Annotated Bibliography: Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Against Women and Girls in Refugee and Internally-Displaced Camps Carried Out by Men in Power.

Prepared for the INEE Gender Task Team by Haviva Kohl


This annotated bibliography was produced for the INEE Gender Task Team under the help and guidance of Jackie Kirk. This product was framed in the context of Education in Displacement -Providing Access, Building Systems, a course taught by Sarah Dryden-Peterson at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education that focuses on education in conflict zones, highlighting the plight of refugee and internally-displaced children. The selection of this annotated bibliography came from the need to understand the complexity of vulnerabilities amongst women and girls in refugee and internally- displaced camps. The goal of this product is to serve as a resource for the INEE Gender Task Team in their work in the field of gender and displacement.




Building capacity – Cluster based training in Vietnam

PEDC School Based Training Manual

Well , having finished the manual on school based training, we immediately thought perhaps it is better if there were opportunities for teachers to work with teachers in other schools close-by. It is not new, but we have now embarked on  cluster based training.

The work in PEDC covers 40 provinces and 126 districts, involving more than 4,000 main schools with their 14,000 satellite sites, aiming to reach the most ‘unreachable’, but luckily not ‘unteachable’!

Many students in the more isolated areas are  ethnic minority students (there 53 ethnic minorities in Vietnam), some of whom find themselves being taught in a language of which they only know a few words. Such is the challenge for teachers and teacher trainers.

What should a cluster look like? How many schools?

Its a bit like forming groups in training sessions – about 4 seems just right, 2 is too small and 6 can be too big, but of course it all depends on geography and communications. In some of our more mountainous provinces distances can be quite far between satellite sites, let alone main schools.

Here are some criteria we are considering using for identifying the  ‘lead’ school in a cluster

  1. Main school should be centrally located for easy access to the other three main schools.
  2. Head teacher should be trained (under 50?) and with proven experience of leading professional development activities.
  3. Low number of students repeating grade 1 in 2009.
  4. Have at least one key teacher who has trained teachers at district level.
  5. School has potential as resource  base for the  school cluster (could be linked to Inclusive Education resource teachers).
  6. Has proven effective School Development planning process and implemented plan.

Not wanting to be ageist, but the lead school head teacher will be an investment for the future and needs to have some more years to serve.

Leadership of the cluster could of course be rotated depending on the overall competence of the school managers, but again geography may necessitate for one central school to maintain coordinating responsibility. Facilities, such as a large meeting room, may only be found in the lower secondary school , so the lead school may be chosen with that in mind, as well as the presence of electricity.

What do the cluster schools do?

The obvious starting point is monthly professional development activities where follow up discussions and sharing of experiences can occur following a training workshop.  Workshop  (1)   can be a school or cluster based activity (of about two days not to disrupt the school week too much )

workshop cycle

The trials in the classroom can be part of an action research cycle and can include ‘lesson study‘ or lesson observation activities. The results of these activities are brought together once again , as a cluster , in workshop ( 2 ) which consists of feeding back and reflecting as well as gaining new knowledge and skills, and the cycle continues.

Trainers, managers and teachers are encouraged to keep a ‘professional diary’ which provides notes for reflection and action .

The note book can be quite simple with three columns  .


Reflection and Discussion Action points

At the start of workshop (2) teachers can bring their notebooks to input some  ideas for approaches that have worked well and to raise issues that other teachers can help explore through collaborative problem solving – such as the use of force field analysis:

In Colombia, in Escuela Nueva microcentres, teachers meet together to adapt the learning guides so that learning guides fit the local context.

Escuela Nueva teachers in their microcentre (cluster based resource centre)

School based training in Vietnam – building capacity for sustainable development

In a centralised state such as Vietnam it is often helpful to see the benefits of centralisation. When it was realised that too many motorcyclists were being killed or severely injured on the roads in Vietnam,the government instituted a law to mandate all motorcyclists to wear helmets.

In Hanoi, almost overnight,everyone was wearing one. So centralisation can have its benefits.

though the law for children has not been fully implemented yet!

This approach may not work with training teachers,though. I am working in education and find that the nearer the ‘trainee’ is to their workplace,the more likely they are to implement what they have been trained. So decentralisation to the district and more importantly to the school is a challenge as well as an opportunity.

Although in Vietnam, teacher training is centralised, the PEDC project decided to work at the local level and provide training for trainers for ‘school based training’. What does this mean in practice?

Normally the Ministry of Education and Training will provide training during the long break (July/August). The problem with this is that there is no organised follow up ,unless a head teacher makes it his/her duty to observe the application of training in the classroom. This approach, although common, is obviously  not learner -centred. The teacher is expected to receive much ‘content’ , which is often subject based, and then after the training and their holiday, attempt to apply all of the knowledge and concepts, on their own, in their classroom. This model is doomed in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

With school based training focused on active learning in the classroom the first question to ask is:

If we want teachers to manage an effective and stimulating classroom where all students participate, learn new skills and knowledge and achieve  well – how do we train the teachers?

Answer: they have to be trained in an effective and stimulating training room where all  participate, learn relevant new skills and knowledge, evaluate themselves and achieve, as well as develop new attitudes towards their teaching and the students.

As imagined, training has to be fully participative and challenging (including group problem solving) and learning is through participation, reflection and analysis.

ray harris

Participants have to take some responsibility for their learning environment as well as the training process and are organised into workshop committees , such as  public relations, games and singing, materials and welfare as well as evaluation.

emotions are important for learning

As emotions are a key element in  learning it is important to develop the psycho-social environment as much as the physical environment. Apart from committees the facilitators try to

•Increase participation and involvement (e.g. creative group work tasks)

•Increase use of effective pair and group work through relevant activities (appropriate to their working context).

• ‘help and support’ participants to learn

•Encourage good workshop relationships – by the  use of games, singing etc.

group problem solving and making teaching aids

Effective training can include  creative and practical problem solving activities focusing on group cooperation, lesson planning,making teaching aids and the needs of students.

To summarise, the benefits of school based training:

1. Pedagogically effective – closer to the real school situation. Professional development is continuous based on action research and cooperative learning.

2. Administratively effective – more flexible for planning and organizing. Less disruptive of classes

3. Cost effective – less travel time and accommodation costs

Teacher Training for Psychosocial Care and Protection of Children in Emergencies -excellent free resource for trainers

In the latest Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies Bi-Weekly Bulletin INEE (December 2009 Volume 1) there is reference to an excellent UNICEF resource for trainers/teachers who are involved in education programs in emergencies.

Here is the introduction to the resource:

In order to strengthen its efforts to promote psychosocial support within educational programming in emergencies, UNICEF has developed teacher-training materials to promote greater understanding of the impact of and effective responses to the psychosocial impact of emergencies on learners. The aim of this training is to improve the psychosocial well being of children in emergency environments. However, vulnerability is something many children experience in their developmental stages of growth and learning, so the skills learned during this training can be utilized by all teachers in the everyday classroom context. Over the course of the training, teachers will be exposed to innovative thinking and discussion whereby they will be able to implement identified goals and plans in order to provide a psychologically and emotionally safer environment for all children in their

This manual is grounded in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Taskforce (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (MHPSS), which outline appropriate minimum responses and standards for psychosocial support and mental health in emergencies. In addition, this manual promotes the standards set forth in the INEE Minimum Standards.


Initial pilot sessions of the training have shown that maximum results are achieved when the approach to psychosocial support by teachers is mainstreamed into the school curriculum and extra-curricular activities. There may be significant relevance to school counsellors as well, though the materials may require some adaptation for their training. Providing exposure to the content for administrators and other school personnel helps to ensure acceptance and sustainability of the programme, as well as a consistency of approach throughout the school system. The materials are oriented towards experienced teachers who already possess strong teaching skills. Shortened or modified versions of the training should be developed to meet the differing needs and capabilities of education personnel other than skilled teachers.

For access to the manual please click here.

The resource is a comprehensive 5 day facilitation guide, and would be useful for all teacher trainers, not just those working in emergency contexts, as it is important to consider children’s psychosocial well being  no matter where they live.