Samar Wahba's story
Egypt: Being a UN Volunteer, working as an Education Specialist with UNICEF Egypt was a very important stage in my life. I had the opportunity to participate in the early childhood development project implemented in the Upper Egypt governorates of Assiut, Sohag, and Qena. I learned many different things, and also helped to contribute to and ameliorate the lives of a number of children in rural areas.
The early childhood development project aims to increase the kindergarten and school enrollment of four- to six-year-olds in these poor areas by improving the quality of education. My role was to monitor and evaluate the work in the project according to trainings given to teachers and implemented by them. I also wrote proposals for funding to pay for activities the project needed and suggested actions and recommendations for the future.
In my experience, I was exposed to new local communities that I hadn’t seen before. I traveled to new places, met different people than I was used to meeting in my area of the city. I was able to help the project with my experience in the field of education and international curriculum. Children were able to learn through modern tools of education like those practiced in the great city of Cairo.
In one of my visits to the kindergartens, the kids welcomed me with a song that they sing to visitors. I was so happy because the kids were happy. I found it a pleasure to see those children having the opportunity to learn, play, express their feelings, and participate in different activities like other children. It was also interesting to see the teachers interacting with love and tenderness with the kids in the class. It was a great experience.
The project began in 2007, and includes among its partners Egypt’s Ministries of Education and Social Solidarity, research institutes, the private sector and UNICEF in Upper Egypt. Partners’ responsibilities throughout the project are planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating which are the keys to sustainability.
The Ministry of Education maintains the project with technical support. It provides non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with the facilitators’ salaries, text books, regular technical supervision and trainings. The Ministry of Social Solidarity looks after the administrative and financial matters.
UNICEF supervises the implementation of the project, monitors activities, and provides funds in accordance with the agreement. The local NGOs provide the project with the locations for classrooms, are responsible for the running costs and management of the kindergartens. When the project ends, the Central Association for Kindergarten Supervisors will provide ongoing follow-up and support as part of its original mandate to kindergarten facilitators.
The relationship between the Government and NGOs is going smoothly and the tie between the NGO administration and the parents is coherent. The sustainability strategy should be based on strengthening the partnership between the Government and civil society in order to increase enrolment in pre-school education.