It was just a routine visit when I attended a class in one of our Non-Formal Education (NFE) centers. I wasn’t really focused on what was happening in the lesson. All my attention was devoted to watching these young children: observing how they talk, react, and smile. This is a group of kids who have seen the worst the world has to offer. Poverty and trauma from the war have made their lives fragile and chaotic, and most are struggling to just survive. Yet they come back to this class each day. I couldn’t help but wonder: why?
The children who attend Questscope’s NFE program have been out of school for at least a year. Often they have been out of school for so long that once they get the chance to reenter, they have fallen too far behind and the formal school system doesn’t have the resources to help them catch up. They are also juggling responsibilities at home, with many kids working long hours at menial jobs to support their families. They are eager to learn, but attending and succeeding in school is a goal that consistently slips out of their grasp.
So I asked them why they came back each day. What makes Questscope’s classroom different from the schools they’ve attended before? And with a few simple answers, I started to understand their commitment. Most answers focused on the way their teachers treated and cared for them like a parent. A person who saw their value, understood their struggle, and championed their growth. At the NFE center they were able to speak up and found someone who would listen, which was more important than any formal lesson they could have learned. And the more confident they felt in themselves, the more those formal lessons actually did stick in their minds.
Participating in the NFE program changed the perspective of many young boys and girls about their education, especially for those who had tried and failed to succeed in the formal education system. For the thousands of children who enter our programs at their most vulnerable point, finding an alternative path to education is the key to restoring their ability to choose what their future will look like. Thanks to the hard work and belief in this program of teachers, staff, students, and supporters – that future shines a little brighter each day.
Media and Communications, Questscope