I’ve been at Bassa Primary School for three years. I used to teach at another school that was part of the Green Schools project (which MCC supports), so when I came to Bassa I was in shock. It was a drastic change.
This school was established in 1972. The buildings are old, and the infrastructure was old and needed repairs and maintenance. There was not much funding available from the Ministry of Education.
So I contacted Ali Al-Zynat with MCC partner Madaba for Supporting Development (MSD) to put our school on the map at least. He came and visited last year and did the assessment, and he felt this school was in dire need.
The project brought life to the school. I’ve been here from ground zero. I’ve seen the renovations, the maintenance, the faucets, the recycling of the water, the gray water tank, the paint, the garden — this is significant change.
And you should see the reaction of the students!
I will never forget this. When they first came to the school (after the renovations), many students were shouting, “Is this our school? I can’t believe this is our school!” It brought life and love and a sense of belonging. They were so happy, and they started to preserve water and the environment because they saw the change and they want to keep it.
MCC photo/Meghan Mast
A mother called the school to thank us. In previous years her son didn’t want to go to school, she told us, but now he’s saying, “Mama thank you, the school is beautiful. I want to be there every day.”
I see the changes, the psychological effects, in everybody from the students to the parents and even the teachers. There’s positivity just coming to the school now.
"It brought life and love and a sense of belonging."
- Oroba Alshahwan
I didn’t set out to become a teacher. Initially I took my bachelor’s degree in information technology and was more interested in going into business management and finance. But at the time the Ministry of Education was creating job openings for IT in many schools, so I felt like that was an opportunity.
I was lucky in my first class as a teacher. We had eight female high school students in class, and I saw in their eyes they were eager to get information. For me it ignited something. Teaching ran so smoothly. I never experienced fear even though it wasn’t my original plan.
One of the topics I was teaching was digital commerce, and there was no internet at the school, no computers. I used to bring my laptop and I would try to explain the material by sitting with each student. I never wanted to give up. I thought, “You should be taught this topic and I will provide.”
Another challenge I gladly accepted is that while I was working on my master’s degree, I had a baby. I had a c-section and only a week after surgery I had an exam.
The teachers never thought I was going to show up, but I did the exam and the professor marked the paper right then and showed the whole class. I got 35 out of 40.
Now I’m a teacher in the morning and in the afternoon I’m a mother. My son is now 5 and I have a daughter who’s 3.
Within a few months of graduation from my master’s, the ministry switched most of the IT positions to administration and I was assigned this job as assistant principal at Bassa school.
Initially when I was sent to be an administrator, I didn’t accept it. I had developed more of a dedication to teaching. This is what I do best. This is why I gained my master’s, and I’m working on my Ph.D. in education so I might even teach in universities. My job here at Bassa school helps me to earn money to fund my education while I’m gaining experience.
As part of my Ph.D., one area we focus on is preparing the education environment, how the school environment can keep the children actively involved in education rather than being passive. As part of my research I’m thinking of using what I’ve seen here of how students reacted after the environment was improved.
Working here and being a mother and a student is a lot to balance. Five minutes can spell disaster for me in changing any schedule. I start early in the morning preparing food, then come here to work and then study.
When they were growing up, my family and parents struggled to get an education. My father completed high school and my mother never made it to sixth grade. Back then it was hard to achieve education, especially for women.
So they suffered and felt they should give their best to their kids and I felt that. I never gave up. I want education. Of my brothers, one is a doctor, one is an engineer and one has his master’s, so now we have become an educated family. I want to keep that course.
Oroba Alshahwan is assistant principal of Bassa Primary School. She helped connect the school with the MCC-supported Green Schools project of Madaba for Supporting Development.