Students use their English language skills to improve their knowledge about COVID-19
Aga Khan Education Service (AKES), Afghanistan has been offering English language courses to primary and secondary students and adults since 2004, so the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were not about to change that.
Whilst AKES’ learning centres were physically closed as a result of government regulations, the academic team took the initiative of designing a Home Based Learning Program (HBLP), and in so doing used the lockdown period as an opportunity to enable students to further pursue their dreams and aspirations.
The main objective of the HBLP was to develop English speaking and reading skills in order to expand student’s vocabulary through fictional story books. Resources were circulated to students along with a sim card to facilitate daily study with teaching and guidance by teachers through telephone.
Teacher, Amina Ahmadi, like her peers, has a strong commitment to providing quality education for her students, especially during the critical time when learning centers were physically closed. She has demonstrated that education can take place remotely. She says that her students were eager to practice their English skills in order to progress in their learning.
Zubeida Safari a student commented, “Fortunately, I could continue my education. My teachers started teleworking, and communicated with me and my classmates regularly through conference calls, this helped us to improve our pronunciation, guide our learning pathways and keep us all motivated.”
Amina found that at times her students were becoming increasingly restless spending extended periods of time in their homes. To help ease their anxiety, teachers planned engaging activities that students could do around their houses that simultaneously encouraged them to practice their English skills, such as creating videos on topical themes and following the news in English.
Zubeida also said “Safety was my major concern at first during the pandemic - learning new habits related to social distancing and daily routines. I usually follow the news in English and Dari, but at the beginning there was so much to take in. I had to limit my exposure to the many pieces of news regarding COVID-19 each day to keep sane enough to carry on, be safe and help my family. Through the Home Based Learning Program I can also develop my English skills by reading the materials which have been provided to us...I can speak, read and write English well enough to create a video about safety measures in response to the pandemic.”
By removing the requirement to attend a physical learning centre, there is the potential for improved access to learning opportunities for students which can improve equity in education.
Shujauddin, Zubeida’s father, is enthusiastic about this possibility, “In this digital age, the educational needs of the growing populations can hardly be met in a traditional classroom environment. Therefore, new improved media are being adopted and used to serve those needs. Distance learning and mobile learning proved their success and usefulness...Moreover, mobile learning offers learners a more personalised experience as they have the opportunity to choose the time, place and learning content.”
Photos (top to bottom):
- Teacher, Amina Ahmadi, has a strong commitment to providing quality education for her students, especially during the critical time when AKES’ learning centers were physically closed.
- Student, Zubeida Safari, was eager to continue her education at home and practice her English skills.