Warm welcome and a flight into the unknown

The time over here is going pretty fast. It seems to me that we have just arrived and it’s already the second day of our stay in Angola. We spent the first night in Luanda, and after the breakfast we were taken to UNICEF’s Office to attend the welcome briefing. We were so exhausted yesterday that we absolutely forgot to introduce you our great coordinators from UNICEF Angola, who have taken care of us since we landed. So I would like to introduce Desire Adomou who is the Education Specialist and Carlos Seixas who works as Project Assistant in Education. In the morning we met more members of UNICEF, Stefan works in the area of Social Policy and Research, Pieter is leading the Education section, Niko takes care of Communication and PR and another communication officer Hector. Their presentation made us more familiar with the country, its main issues and with the work that UNICEF does here to change and improve the education system.

Welcome briefing in UNICEF office, Luanda photo taken by Michaela Samiecová
Welcome briefing in UNICEF office, Luanda photo taken by Michaela Samiecová

Long term war lead Angola into 40 years of instability, no systematic education and bad infrastructure. The partnership of IKEA Foundation and UNICEF started in 1988 and has brought really great results within the last decade. Shared commitment of realising the rights of all children is an essential point to achieve the set goals. One of the goals is to provide education to every child from the age of 3 to 15. It is a goal for the long term in a country like Angola where 1/3 of the teachers are not properly trained to teach, there are not enough classrooms for the growing population, there is no good infrastructure so kids cannot get to school and water or sanitation facilities are not available when they get there.

From the left Pieter, Anita, Hana, Dana, Michaela, Eva, Stephen, Niko, Desire; photo taken by Michaela Samiecová
From the left Pieter, Anita, Hana, Dana, Michaela, Eva, Stephen, Niko, Desire; photo taken by Michaela Samiecová

First of all you need good management to start quality education. UNICEF therefore prepares manuals for supervision, training of trainers for coordinators and managers of early childhood centres, provides learning materials and formulation of Teacher Training policy for National Teachers Training Institute (INFQ). Their method is not to go to into the provinces and teach the children, build them bathrooms or do the work what local community should do for them. The main point is to go there and show the local government and people what changes they can make themselves to get more children into school, make a better environment for them, keep their attention and prevent them from dropping out. It is all about pushing the government to consider the importance of changing the education system, and encourage them to start working on the training of the teachers.

Last but not least, is the important goal of UNICEF to implement inclusive education, to bring children with disabilities into the classrooms so they can have the opportunity to learn and stop being ‘unseen’ (tabu) in society.

Arrival to Kuito, province of Bié; photo taken by Michaela Samiecová
Arrival to Kuito, province of Bié; photo taken by Michaela Samiecová

After the welcome briefing we took the local flight to Kuito, a little town in the province of Bié. The town centre was recently rebuilt and looks more like European holiday destination than rural Africa. We stopped by the Provincial Directorate of Education and also visited the local Vice-Governor Deputy for Politic and Social Affairs. Such a visit is an important courtesy to local authorities to introduce ourselves and let them know the purpose of our mission.

I can say that two days of briefings and visits has prepared us for the field really well and we just couldn’t wait to see what the next day will bring us.