“This school has become a heaven,” said custodian Hanan.
Hanan has given the Saffa Girls’ School 10 years of her life, during which she has seen it transform from a crumbling old building to a big, important school accommodating over 500 students.
In 2008-2009, ANERA built two new floors, generously funded by the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in collaboration with the school administration, village council and the Ministry of Education. The new floors consist of eight classrooms, one science lab and utilities. Besides improving the learning environment, the school’s construction had the added benefit of providing short-term jobs for villagers in need of a source of income.
“Before these two floors were added to the school, we’d been suffering from overcrowded classrooms, to the extent that we used to send a large number of girls to a nearby boys’ school, because they could spare a few rooms,” said Dina, one of the school’s secretaries. “Although we are still in need of extra classrooms to eliminate this problem entirely, the two floors have added much needed space. The school is now a better teaching and learning and environment.”
“The situation here was horrible several years ago. It was very damp and the toilets were unsanitary. Mice used to run around the place and the building was so old we were scared an earthquake would bury us in rubble,” said Hanan.
The two new floors have added peace of mind to the girls and teachers, but the new lab especially has been popular with the students. “The lab has expanded the students’ horizon. Everything they learn in books they implement and experiment with at the lab. The lab is used by all the classes from first to twelfth grade,” explained Dina.
The Saffa School has earned a great reputation – students have achieved a 90% success in the National Secondary Certificate (Tawjihi). It has also been ranked as a ‘model school’ by AMIDEAST, which will be soon offering a few teachers funding to pursue master’s degrees in the US. The school also boasts about earning a first prize in an environmental exhibition, aiming at preserving the environment creatively and artistically. Fifth to seventh graders produced the winning art piece from recycled paper.
“It is because of our excellent staff and the funds from IFAD that we are able to give our best to the students and offer them a suitable learning environment to succeed, blossom and excel,” said Dina, proudly.