Mostafa Wafa remembers the first months at Mish Madrasa: “I walked into the classroom and the bench was flipped over, two students were crying, and insults were being yelled across the room.” Hisham, a new volunteer, laughs, but the effects of this behavior weigh heavily upon the mentors.
“We quickly realized that this behavior in the classroom reflected the student’s behavior at home and on the street. If the Egypt’s young generation shows little respect for others, how do we expect to build a strong community?” says Wafa. “We decided to make respect an important focus for Mish Madrasa.”
Mish Madrasa’s creative solution is the “Evaluation Table”: a tool, Hisham reports, “student love.” The Evaluation Table poster displays categories of characteristics for which students can win points. Points gained throughout the lessons are added up at the end of the week. The student who has demonstrated the most respectable behavior will win a price which they can share with the class at the end of the week.
“If we shout in class, interrupt students, say insults, or hit anyone we get an X on the chart. That means we have not respected others and we do not get a point,” explains Ahmed, January’s winner. Youssef, Mish Madrasa’s eldest student, says “it really helps in our behavior in class. We are able to learn a lot now that everyone is not talking and saying insults. We are showing respect to each other, the teacher, and ourselves.”
Hisham saw a stark change in student behavior: “During lessons students work hard to show respect to their teachers and classmates. If one student insults another, his classmates tell him he is not being respectful.” But the change is not only in the classroom. Nadia remembers watching the football game: “There was no yelling or screaming. Everyone was respecting the referee and respected each other.”
“I am pleased,” says Hisham, “Wa7da, wa7da, we are building the future.”