Our top 17 stories of 2017 on the power of education
The end of the year is near, so it's time to look back over the past 12 months and (re) discover 17 of the best stories on how education can make a difference.
December 20, 2017 by GPE Secretariat|

The end of the year is near, so it's time to look back over the past 12 months and review the progress achieved in GPE partner countries.

With numbers such as "617 million children and youth in school but not learning" or "264 million children still out of school", it's easy to lose sight of the remarkable efforts that governments, civil society and development partners are making, and which in turn are making a difference in the lives of millions of children.

Despite huge challenges due to conflict, natural disasters or pandemics, the following countries are plowing ahead to keep education systems going or rebuild them:

After disaster strikes, Zinah continues to learn

12-year-old Zinah lives in Soanafindra, a village in the region of Antananarivo, Madagascar. In 2012, a tornado destroyed her school. Thanks to the support of GPE, she is now back in school.

Rebuilding Liberia through education after Ebola

The Ebola virus that struck Liberia in 2014-2015 left more than 4,800 dead and thousands more were affected. In this video you will meet Miatta, Bendu, Elizabeth and Fazam who share their stories on how they are coping after the Ebola crisis.

Three girls listen attentively in class, October 2012. Chad has been working with GPE to strengthen its education system since 2012. However, the influx of refugees fleeing Boko Haram and violence in North-Western Nigeria has put additional strain on the Ministry, which is committed to educating all children in the country. CREDIT: Educate a Child

The GPE Focal Point at the Ministry of Education in Chad writes about how accelerated funding and support for refugee and displaced populations in the Lake Chad region has made a difference

Internally displaced children attend a class in a tent school provided by UNICEF in Ibb, Yemen, Sunday 10 January 2016. CREDIT: © UNICEF/UN050306/Madhok

Despite a humanitarian crisis and an economy in tailspin, about 90% of Yemen's schools are open, with the government trying to continue the education of over 5 million children and youth, 73% of the student population. Against the odds, communities are trying their best to keep schools going to prevent the school system from collapsing.

A solid education system is the basis for better learning. The following are stories about countries strengthening their systems through better management, monitoring, infrastructure, materials and support to teachers:

690 students attend school in Ghindae, but the classrooms are in disrepair. The GPE-supported program is providing funding to build new classrooms, as well as train teachers and distribute textbooks. CREDIT: GPE/Fazle Rabbani

The town of Ghindae in Eritrea has only one school with 690 students, 7 teachers and 5 dilapidated classrooms. Thanks to GPE's support, old classrooms are being replaced, new textbooks have been provided and teachers have been trained. The GPE grant is providing similar support to 80 school communities in four districts, which has resulted in the reduction of the number of out-of-school children in the country.

Students at Sanjogo primary school in Zambia. CREDIT: GPE/Carine Durand

Thanks to a program funded by GPE and DfID, Zambia' Ministry of General Education now has a strengthened monitoring and evaluation system that will help improve learning and accountability.

Girls attend school in Pakistan. CREDIT: World Bank

Supported by a GPE grant, the Sindh school monitoring system is the first digital system in the education sector in Pakistan that allows transparent and effective monitoring of staff, students and school infrastructure.

Several countries have made specific efforts to reach the youngest learners, to prepare them to succeed later in school.

Investing in early childhood education for Cambodia's future success

Through the Early Child Education project, financed by GPE, 100 formal schools and community-based preschools have opened in Cambodia, benefiting more than 125,000 students aged 3-5 years old.

A student writes numbers on the blackboard at the Mnyimbi TuTu Center, North Province, Zanzibar. CREDIT: GPE/Chantal Rigaud

Through community preschools opened in communities around the island, the government of Zanzibar has almost doubled enrollments in early childhood education. In its new 5-year sector strategy, Zanzibar wants to expand access to quality preschool even more.

A student writes numbers on the blackboard at the Mnyimbi TuTu Center, North Province, Zanzibar. CREDIT: GPE/Chantal Rigaud

In Nicaragua, newly constructed preschools combined with new learning materials and improved teacher training have created a stimulating atmosphere for children, teachers, directors, and parents alike.

One could argue that GPE's most valuable contribution is its role as convener of all education stakeholders in support of a country's own priorities. GPE also acts as a knowledge broker of experiences and good practices. The following examples show how this works:

A young girl in class at the Tim Hines school in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The school sets a good example of how community efforts and the involvement of parents make a positive impact for students. CREDIT: GPE/Carolina Valenzuela

Impressions from GPE CEO Alice Albright after her visit to Honduras where the new 2017-2030 education sector plan was presented to partners. The education plan is the result of a collaborative journey of multiple consultations and workshops, gatherings more than 36 institutions to discuss education policies, technical issues and build consensus on the development of the education system.

A head teacher at a school in Sierra Leone. CREDIT: GPE/Stephan Bachenheimer

A workshop led by the ministry of education of Sierra Leone gives education partners the space to discuss progress and challenges and help the country move forward from the Ebola crisis

A session of the DRC joint sector review held in Kinshasa in February 2017, where representatives from Chad and Madagascar attended and learned from their peers. CREDIT: GPE/Vania Salgado

At the invitation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, education ministry officials from Chad and Madagascar traveled to Kinshasa to participate in DRC's education joint sector review, learn and share their experiences, which they will then use in their own national processes to monitor the sector.

We took a look at how to support the most important actors in the education chain: teachers.

Fulani girls share a textbook. Despite being in class three, these girls cannot read more than a few words in the textbook. The teacher prompts them, word by word. Ecole Patti, Makalondi, Tilaberri Region, Niger. CREDIT: GPE/Kelley Lynch

In Niger, many students are confronted with learning in a language that is different from their mother tongue. A US$84.2 million grant from GPE is helping Niger improve the quality of teaching and learning by developing textbooks and teacher guides in three local languages, reviewing the curriculum, and providing pre-service and in-service training for teachers.

Sixth grade teacher Evelyne Saru Mchori works with ICT Technician James Mwamta who helps teachers enter their TPAD (Teacher Performance Appraisal and Development tool) self-appraisals online. Location: Miritini Primary School, Mombasa County, Kenya. CREDIT: GPE/Kelley Lynch

With support from a US$88.4 million grant from GPE, Kenya has developed a new Teacher Performance Appraisal Development tool, which allows to monitor teachers' attendance and syllabus coverage, but also their classroom performance, professional knowledge, and innovation and creativity. And finally, one of the key goals of SDG 4 and GPE 2020 is to make education equitable and inclusive for all children, no matter their circumstances. This includes girls and children with disabilities.

And finally, one of the key goals of SDG 4 and GPE 2020 is to make education equitable and inclusive for all children, no matter their circumstances. This includes girls and children with disabilities.

Suwaiba Yunusa, 29, the only female teacher at Janbulo Islamiyya Primary School, Roni, Jigawa State, Nigeria

Suwaiba Yunusa, 29, is the only female teacher at Janbulo Islamiyya Primary School located in Roni, Jigawa State, in Nigeria. In addition to teaching, she is an important role model to her female students.

Seeing means learning in Cambodia

GPE and other partners supported Cambodia's Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to conduct a pilot project on low vision. The project highlights how the health and education sectors can work together to achieve better learning outcomes for children.

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