A good teacher can change many lives. Even with the best equipped schools or the best textbooks, without teachers, children won’t be able to learn and progress. Nevertheless, teachers are often the unsung heroes of education, with low pay and little job recognition in too many countries.
At GPE, we believe that teachers are central to the learning process and play a critical role in improving learning outcomes. That’s why all current grants to partner countries include support to teacher training.
GPE’s Chief Executive Officer, Alice Albright, said:
Let’s discover some of these unsung heroes who are changing lives daily.
Bin Nou - Cambodia
Bin Nou is head teacher at Ta Tum Primary school in Bantheay Srey District in Siem Reap, Cambodia. She was trained to identify students with vision problems to help remove barriers for active participation and academic success. “Our villages don’t have easy access to eye care providers and glasses are not available locally. Therefore, vision problems often remain uncorrected,” Nou explained.
Determined to make a difference in her school, Nou conducted vision screening for all 205 students and identified one student who needed glasses, Matai, who is 8 years old and studies in Grade 3. Matai could choose glasses from a wide range of different colored frames and picked yellow, the one she liked most.
With improved vision, Nou expects better learning outcomes from Matai, and that is of course a priceless result of a very simple and low-cost intervention.
Lalao Marie-Angèle - Madagascar
Lalao Marie-Angèle lives in Masindray, a rural area 15 kilometers away from the main city, Manazary in Madagascar. In 2013, she opened her village’s first community school in an old house with a brick floor that was previously used as an office for the administration of the village. Started with two classrooms and 65 children, Lalao Marie-Angèle was the only teacher in the school.
A few months later, a delegation from the ministry of Education came to visit the area and saw the condition of the school. The strong motivation of Lalao Marie-Angèle and the parents convinced the officials to finance the construction of a new school in her village, which was established in 2015. It had brand new desks, blackboards, toilets and even a wheelchair ramp.
In September 2016, the school received 54 new textbooks through a GPE-funded program and school kits were distributed to the 172 children enrolled there for the 2016-2017 school year. Lalao Marie-Angèle is now the school director and secretary of the school management board of the local administration.
Tukur Yusuf - Nigeria
Tukur Yusuf is a teacher at Miga Central Primary School in Jigawa State, Nigeria. Tukur admits that teaching girls in his culture has many challenges: “Many girls don’t come to school on time. The parents will make them sell something – hawking food mostly – before they can come to school. So when they finish and arrive at school they can be even several hours late. And at that time they will be too shy to enter the classroom so they will just stay outside.”
Another challenge is that he cannot teach the girls one-on-one because it is culturally unacceptable. “It would look inappropriate and potentially put [the girls] in a bad [or] risky position,” he explained. As a result, he usually organizes revisions with groups of girls whenever some of them missed classes due to menstruation.
To make his classroom more “girl-friendly,” Tukur said, “My lessons are very interactive. I get everybody involved and call on everyone, boys and girls. I check all of their books. If there is a mistake, I will do the correction in front of everyone, for the benefit of everyone.”
Tulasha Malla Shah - Nepal
Tulasha Malla Shah is a dedicated resource class teacher from the far west region of Nepal. She lives in a remote mountainous area, which is inaccessible by road for several months of the year due to heavy snowfall. The challenging terrain and high level of poverty in the area mean that it can be difficult for children to access education, especially children with disabilities.
Tulasha said, “I became interested in teaching children with hearing impairment after completing a sign language training course arranged by the government of Nepal in 2006. This course made me see how I could help children with hearing impairment to learn more easily, and to help communicate with them.”
Since the course, Tulasha became more confident teaching reading and writing to students with hearing impairment. She told us of her experience and her dedication to her job, and why it brings her a “happiness that has no match!”
Ogolli William Orem - South Sudan
Ogolli William Orem is head teacher at Ayii Central Primary School, located about 100 kilometers from the capital Juba in South Sudan. Ogolli has been serving the school since 2008. He understood very well the needs of his school and managed to buy over 500 bricks with support from the community to start building classrooms.
When his school received funding from GPE, he said, “I am very happy indeed for the program of GPE that came in for the construction of our school. Our enrollment at the school in the previous years always reached not more than 400, but as the program [of] GPE came in, the learners’ enrollment has gone higher.”
Besides a proper school environment, Ogolli also acknowledged that the school constantly needs more teachers due to the ongoing conflict within the country. “I therefore encourage the GPE and their partners to come in and construct the school and improve our learning,” he emphasized.
Jacque Jumbe-Kahura - Kenya
Jacqueline Jumbe is a volunteer teacher of Makonjemare primary school in Kilifi County, Kenya. Jacqueline said, “Teaching was part of the environment I grew up in. My parents taught and my elder sister became a teacher too. There was a lot of talk at home about teaching and why it was the best profession. I developed the urge to “teach” other young ones at the age of 9.”
When she joined the profession, she quickly saw the elements of inequality and demotivation, not only among students, but also her fellow educators. However, that did not stop her from teaching. She decided to become “a different kind of teacher,” and later on founded an organization called ‘Lifting the Barriers, Education and Development’ that serves as a hub for teachers to share their views on research or evidence gaps.
Her message for teachers is “we are important, we truly matter and our role in human development cannot be underestimated. I encourage every teacher to do what they can to find true happiness in the profession.”