The Yemeni High School Internet Pilot Project

Project Goals
The Yemeni High School Internet Project is a three-year initiative funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative, through USAID’s dot-EDU project. The goals of the project were to:
  • Improve teachers’ ability to facilitate student-centered lessons through ICT;
  • Improve students’ learning (especially girls) by helping them to access information through the use of the internet for research
  • Assess the potential of the internet to serve as a teaching and learning tool at the high school level in Yemen;
  • Create professional development networks for Yemeni educators, especially female teachers and students with limited mobility.
These goals support the ministry of education’s desire to expose children and teachers to technology and build up their ability to use computers for educational purposes. While the widespread use of ICTs in educational settings is not an immediately viable option for a country as poor as Yemen, the Ministry of Education nonetheless wants to begin to build the base of human capital to support the gradual introduction of ICTs in education, as the system grows and improves. The MOE recognizes that it cannot wait until it achieves 100% enrollment and retention of students to begin to introduce Yemeni students to ICTs.

Map of Yemen Increased Access for Girls
The project goals also support the ministry’s general push to improve the country’s abysmal statistics on girls’ education and literacy. Indeed, Yemen’s enrollment and retention rates, especially for girls, are extremely low: only 33% of girls finish primary school; only 45% of rural girls are enrolled in public schools. The illiteracy rate stands at 76% for females in Yemen.

Indeed, as part of the project, a Yemeni NGO, called SOUL (the Society for Women and Children in Yemen) conducted a study on barriers to girls’ use of computers and the internet to help inform project implementation. The strongest barriers cited were:
  • The educational system
  • The cost of ICT use
  • Family-related factors
Much to the surprise of the project, 64.1% of respondents said that the educational system is a barrier to computer use and 62% cited the educational system as a barrier to internet use. In a country as poor as Yemen, with a strong tradition of gender segregation, the project researchers expected cost and culture/tradition to emerge as the main stated barriers. The notion of the educational system as a barrier indicated that girls looked to schools to provide access to computers and ICTs, since their mobility is limited in seeking out ICT access in other venues, but that the educational system could not provide that access.

Selecting Schools and Master Trainers
The project was designed to serve 5 schools in Sana’a, 5 in Aden, 3 in Al Mukalla and 4 in Taiz. Schools went through an application process in order to be selected to participate in the project. The schools had to demonstrate the following:
  • A commitment to have secure room for lab;
  • A commitment to use lab by teachers/students for courses;
  • An interest in ICT and teacher training;
In addition, a key part of the application process involved evaluating which schools had staff with a genuine commitment to ensuring the project’s success and making sure that girls’ schools were selected in equal or greater numbers than boys’ schools to participate in the project, as girls in Yemen have even more limited access to computers and the internet than their male counterparts.

The Initial work of the project was done by Amideast. This phase of work involved installing computer laboratories, with internet connectivity, in the selected Yemeni High schools in Sana’a and Aden.

The second phase of the project involved a training of trainers model to build school level capacity in the use of computers and the internet. EDC selected 5 teachers from each school through a competitive application process involving project staff and ministry officials, to become master trainers in their respective schools. EDC provided training to these teachers from each school, as well as the school director, in basic principles and practices of student centered instruction (as a context for computer and internet-based instruction in the classroom). Hence, the subsequent ICT training offered by project partners World Links Arab Region and iEARN was firmly grounded in notions of transforming classroom practice and improving teaching and learning and not simply in the technology itself. The project worked according to the following principles:
  • ICTs are a tool to provide teacher professional development and improve teachers’ classroom performance;
  • ICTs are instrumental in improving students’ learning;
  • ICT access in school enhances girls’ ability to learn to use and benefit from technology;
  • ICTs are NOT an end in themselves.
Master teachers were then required to offer the same training they had received (with some project support and monitoring) to the teachers in their schools. These master teachers proved very enthusiastic and, with the support of their school directors, met all of their commitments, organizing training sessions in how to use computers, in student centered instruction and in finding educational resources using the internet.

The project is currently working with five high schools in Sana’a and five high schools in Aden. In the 2005/2006 academic year, the project will work with an additional four high schools in Taiz and three in Al Mukalla.

Results and Lessons to Date
The model of tying master trainer status to an open and transparent application process proved very popular with both the ministry and the schools. Other key decisions made by the project to ensure success included training the school directors in the same materials as the master teachers and in having a cadre of master trainers (5 plus the school director) per school so that responsibility for the lab and the professional development of colleagues could be shared and was not unduly burdensome to one or two people.

In terms of numbers, the project has trained 54 master trainers from 10 schools (26 in Sana’a, [18 female, 8 male], and 28 in Aden, [13 female, 12 male]) in principles and practices of student centered instruction, in how to use computers and in how to use the internet as an educational resource.

In Sana’a, the 26 Master Trainers have trained:
  • 547 teachers (438 female) on student-centered learning;
  • 199 teachers (159 female) on how to use computers and the Internet as instructional and learning resources;
Sana’a Master Trainers and teachers use student-centered learning methodologies in class with their students and participate in online collaborative lessons. In October 2005, these teachers started using labs with their students, thereby providing computer and internet access directly to students.

In Aden, 25 Master Trainers have trained 246 teachers (153 female) on the same topics. These teachers have also begun to use student centered methodologies in their classrooms and participate in online collaborative lessons. By the middle of the second semester, they too are expected to begin using the labs for student instruction.

The project expects to launch the trainings in Al Mukalla and Taiz in the coming months, once the labs are installed and ready for use.

More than 2/3 of the teachers trained reported that they had no experience with computers and the internet; none of the teachers had previous experience in online courses. In addition, teachers in Sana’a have reported that students are enthusiastic about learning to use computers and the internet and demonstrate more interest in those subjects for which they can use the labs.

Finally, schools in Sana’a, which received their computer labs first (before Aden and Al-Mukalla and Taiz) opened the labs to community members during the summer break. Master trainers and teachers offered computer courses to members of community, especially women and girls who had dropped out of school for various reasons. This unanticipated but highly welcome initiative on the part of Sana’a school directors expanded the reach of the labs and increased the cost effectiveness of MEPI’s initial investment. The sound model for site selection and master teacher selection contributed to the school’s commitment to utilize the labs for learning purposes and thus effectively provide ICT access to those for whom it was not possible in the past.

For More Information, Contact:
DOT-COM: Helen Boyle
Project Director, Internet in Yemeni High Schools
Education Development Center

Related DOT-COM Activity
Yemen - ICTs for the Improvement of Education and Female Role Models
Related DOT-COMments Newsletter Articles
Related Links
Click on USAID's logo to visit USAID
Click on Internews Network logo, to visit Internews
Click on Academy for Educational Development (AED) logo to visit AED
Click on Educational Development Center (EDC) logo to visit EDC
Core funding for the DOT-COM Alliance is provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture & Trade, Office of Infrastructure and Engineering (EGAT/OI&E), Office of Education (EGAT/ED), and Office of Women in Development (EGAT/WID), under the terms of Award numbers: GDG-A-00-01-00009-00, dot-GOV; GDG-A-00-01-00014-00, dot-ORG; GDG-A-00-01-00011-00, dot-EDU.
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