Marefat High School
Summary of the Introduction
Founded: 1994 (Rawalpindi – Islamabad, Pakistan)
Present Location: PD13, West of Kabul, Dashti Barchi, Poli Khoshk, Gulistane marefat
Contact Person: Aziz Royesh (MHS BT member and civic education teacher)
Number of current students (2008): 3150
Gender percentage: 56 % male and 44 % female
Grades: 1 – 12
Number of Current teachers (2008): 95 (62% female)
Minimum and Maximum monthly salary: 5400 – 7700 afs. for one shift duty. Some of the teachers have classes in two shifts, so they get the salary of the two shifts. (plus special privileges for talented and skilled teachers);
Facilities for the teachers: Free transportation, and subsidized lunch program
Transportation facility for the students: Subsidized transportation
Current tuition fees: grades 1-3: 300 afs, grades 4-6: 350 afs, grades 7-9: 380 afs, grades 10-12: 400 afs
Charity Box: Every year more than 250 students especially the girls of the higher grades are sponsored with all their expenses (tuition fee, transportation, stationery, uniform, etc) (one of the main contributors of the Charity Box has been Her Excellency Lady Dr. Frances D’Souza, member of the House of Lords);
Graduations: The first graduated group in 2006 (22 students, 13 girls, 9 boys); the second group in 2007 (13 students, 4 girls and 9 boys)
(for two first years, the students of the higher grades were kept low because of some problems in the process of the school accreditation. For the current year, 46 students are in grade 12 (26 girls and 20 boys) while the students of the 11 grade are 150 (80 girls and 70 boys).
Graduation results: MHS graduated students have gotten100% success in the university exams.
- Productive civic and democratic subjects in the curriculum: Humanism, Human Rights, Democracy,
- Educative civic and democratic practices such as students elected representatives in the Board of Trustees, students’ parliament, students’ class councils, etc.
- Special Access to Internet program through which the students run their personal web logs and get in touch with worldwide interlocutors. (4 sets of computers and one-year internet is provided by the British Council, and the electrification system is set by the USAID).
- Special accelerated learning program with wonderful results in 5 years. Hundreds of youths at the age of over 18 and 20 have come to start their education just form grade 1 and have been upgraded to grades 12 and 11 in four or five years.
- MoU with the American University of Afghanistan through which three professors of the University have launched special English and civic education classes for more than 150 students (boys and girls)
- It is a nongovernmental school but a community supported one. It is donated by the community, has flourished through the contribution of the community, and is led by the elite members from different strata of the community (Intellectuals, MPs, School and University teachers, influential figures of the community, clergies, students and students’ parents, etc.)
Marefat High School
Marefat High School (MHS) is a community-supported, grassroots, education center based in Dashti Barchi, District 13th, in the densely populated western part of Kabul with a population of more than one million people.
Operation in Pakistan: 1994 – 2006
MHS started operation in Pakistan just at the onset of the civil war in 1994. By the end of 2001, MHS, with a unique coeducational system, had succeeded in establishing six branches in three main cities of Pakistan; in Rawalpindi–Islamabad, in Attock, and in Peshawar. In 2002, five branches of the school were moved to Kabul. The main branch ceased operation in Pakistan in 2006.
Operation in Afghanistan: 2002 – Present
The first rented building of MHS comprised of only four adobe classrooms in which only 150 students (male and female) attended coeducational classes in grades one to four. After a few months, the number of students increased and the school had to move to a two-storey building with 12 classrooms.
Dr. Frances D’Souza and MHS
Her Excellency, Baroness Dr. Frances D’Souza visited MHS in 2002 and 2003. Dr. D’Souza contributed to the gradual development of MHS by raising funds in the UK. Through her kind and generous funding, MHS was able to help tens of female students continue their education and move ahead to higher grades. A number of these students have completed their studies at the school and since 2007 have started entering to the universities successfully.
Accelerated Learning Program
MHS has a special accelerated learning program designed especially for older girls who had previously not been able to attend school at the normal age. Many of them have had to start from the first grade even though they are above 18 years of age. Many of them have graduated; many are currently in grade twelve and many more are in grades eleven, ten and nine. A unique example is a divorced woman who was illiterate at the age of 28 when she first attended MHS in Pakistan in early 2000. She finished school in 2006 and now she is a qualified teacher for grades seven and eight, teaching biology, chemistry and physics. In 2006 she got married to a 24-year old classmate who had attended the same class as she had in Pakistan.
The new building of MHS
Now, MHS is occupying a two-storey building with 33 classrooms, offices, prayers’ room, a library, a conference hall, canteen, and a open space for break times of the students. The building plot was bought by the initial donation of Dr. D’Souza and many community supporters. The community supporters also contributed to the construction of the building.
Source of Budget
Each student at Marefat High School pays a monthly tuition fee through which the salaries of the teachers and some other expenses are paid. The operational budget deficit of the school is remedied by the income from the school canteen and also by donations from community supporters, especially members of the Board of Trustees (BT).
The total annual cost for a student to study at MHS is approximately 140 – 160 dollars. It includes tuition, transportation, stationery and uniform.
Sponsorship for the students
Since the beginning of the MHS operation, nearly 250 students (mostly female students in the higher grades) have been sponsored by Marefat Charity Box that has covered all their expenses; tuition, uniform, stationery and transportation. Some of these students are orphans, some are disabled, and some come from rather poor families. The increasing poverty is doubling the number of the underprivileged students, mounting too much pressure on the school.
So far the fund of the charity box has been donated by Her Excellency Dr. Frances D’Souza, BT members and some of the teachers and students of the school.
Students’ Charity Box
The students of MHS have a special charity box in their classes through which they help their poor classmates with their stationeries, tuition, etc. This box is managed by one of the members of the class council.
MHS gave up its coeducational system
MHS was coeducational until early 2005. According to the rules set by the Ministry of Education, coeducational classes were no longer allowed in schools. Thus, MHS had to obey the rules and hold single-sex classes in order to be accredited by the Ministry.
The separation of girls and boys had unpleasant impact on the students, especially on the girls. They found it an overt discrimination and insult. However, the school continued to have some coeducational practices such as seminars, discussions, music programs, story writings, etc. to keep the good atmosphere of mutual activities between the boys and the girls alive.
The school received accreditation
The school received official accreditation in 2006 and since then students could take the university entrance exam. The accreditation has made it possible for the students to join the university and has raised the social credibility of the school.
Board of Trustees
MHS is led by a Board of Trustees, comprised of MPs, university professors, teachers, community elders, and elected students representatives. The Board of Trustees is the high authority and the official license holder of the school. One of the members of the Board of Trustees is MP Engineer Abbas Noyan, who has been one of the main community supporters of the school.
Structure of Organization
The system of organization in the school is based on a democratic structure:
- The Board of Trustees meets every month and sets guidelines and programs for the overall activities of the school. The board also monitors the monthly budget, makes decision about the underprivileged students, etc.
- The Teachers’ Council in its weekly meetings reviews all the activities of the school over the week and decides on important issues related to the pedagogical methods of delivery, dealing with the student affairs, exchanging of ideas, etc.
- The Students’ Parliament is comprised of two elected representatives from every class; the teachers and BT members. The students evaluate their teachers’ method of teaching, attending to matters of their fellow students, and introducing improvements in the system. Accordingly, they praise the good aspects of their teachers’ attitudes. The students offer their suggestions both to their teachers and the BT. The teachers are required to be open to students’ suggestions and discuss them together with the students.
- The Class Council is comprised of six elected best students of the class. This six-member group conducts all the affairs related to their lessons, homework, class discipline, and etc. Each member of the council is responsible for one of the necessary activities within the class; charity, discipline, cleaning and safety of the class, representing their class in the Students’ Parliament, supervising students’ homework and in-class assignments and representing the class to the principal’s office.
- The Three-Member Groups in the Class. All of the students in each class are organized in groups of three: one high performing, one average and one underperforming student. These three are required to work collectively. The top student is responsible for helping his/her two partners in improving their capacities and achieving better grades.
- Council of the School Discipline is comprised of 40 students. This council is organized in 5-members groups and conducts all affairs related to the students’ discipline and personal conduct within school. The head of the council is elected in an open election every three months.
Through this structure all activities of the school are conducted by all members of the school. Students learn to manage and control collective affairs. They learn to work, lead, criticize, endure criticism, participate in community activities, etc.
Marefat conducts special teacher training programs for its teachers. The aim of this program is to improve the pedagogical, professional, and academic abilities of the teachers.
Civic Education is a prized feature of the MHS in the Afghan education landscape. A specially developed course on Humanism is added to the curricula from the fifth grade. This subject is about the roots and impacts of Humanism in ancient Athens, after Renaissance in Europe, as well as in the Islamic teachings. Through this subject, the history of middle ages and scholastic era are studied. Individualism, Liberalism, Rationalism, as well as technology, democracy and Human Rights are studied on the basis of humanism. At the end of this subject, the Islamic point of view is studied and the humanistic approach of the holy Quran and the prophet Mohammad are taught to the students. Humanism is regarded as the theoretical basis for the whole civic education program of MHS.
In grade eight and above another course on the subject of political science and human rights is added to the curricula. It continues to class twelve along with democratic practices inside the class and in the whole school compound.
Fine Arts Scheme
A special program of fine arts is conducted in MHS which includes painting, music, theatre, story-writing, poetry, etc. Through this program, talented students are encouraged and trained. So far, one exhibition of Marefat arts has been launched in American Embassy and the funds raised through this exhibition were used 60% for the artists, 20% for the art gallery, and 20% for the Marefat Charity Box.
Newsletter of the MHS Students
Students publish wall bulletins for of their classes, as well as a campus wide student newsletter for the whole school to read. Through these papers, the students practice writing, poetry, and the fundamentals of journalism. The papers have created a good atmosphere for literature, critical thinking, creative thinking, literary critique and expression of ideas and thoughts.
Democratic Practices and participations
The students of MHS participated in both the Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Their role was very productive and they learned a lot in the process. Engineer Abbas Noyan, member of the MHS Board of Trustees was the candidate endorsed by MHS who ended up winning in the elections. Mr Noyan played a great role in the whole period of Parliamentary functioning. He was instrumental in helping the school receive accreditation from the Ministry of Education.
Moreover, the students are organized in a Kabul Youth Association which has a democratic structure and practices all the democratic norms such as elections, accountability, vote of confidence, etc. The teachers do not interfere in any of the practices of the association. Five elected students are also members of Marefat Board of Trustees.
To have a direct relation with the parents of the students, MHS holds regular sessions in which the parents of the students participate and discuss on every matter related to the programs of the school. Meanwhile, the parents’ session is a good opportunity to brief the community on important issues of the country as well as learning from civic and democratic process of the school.
The Requirement of the School
The prime need of the school for the time being is:
- Sponsoring as much as possible of the girl students who face economic pressures in the course of their studies. Funds for this purpose can be channeled through Marefat Charity Box.
- Construction of at least 20 classrooms (each classroom with all necessary equipments costs approximately $4000) for the girls. The building plot is already donated by one of the Marefat BT members. It is located close to the school building and makes it possible for male and female students to study at the same time in separate buildings.
- Equipment for two computer labs. The electricity works of the classes have been done by USAID. The power is supplied by a diesel generator which was also donated by USAID. Each lab would need 20 computers. (For the time being, the school has only 4 sets of computer donated by the British Council which is used for the official works and basic trainings).
- Books, journals, CDs, films, TVs, CD players, projectors, etc. for the English Language programs for the senior students in grades 10-12.
- Special support for the art gallery; painting, calligraphy, miniature, music, poetry, etc.