RIYADH: On an international dress-up day at a kindergarten in Alkhobar two decades ago, Indian national Aysha Ayub was reluctant to wear a sari, believing she would stand out in her country’s national dress while others appeared in traditional Saudi clothing.

Nouf Albalood, a Saudi KG 3 teacher, decided to don an Indian sari in support of Ayub — a small, but significant, gesture that made the young girl feel less alone and encouraged her to wear the garment.

Today, whenever she puts on her sari, 26 year-old-Ayub remembers the joy she felt that day.

People often think back and reflect on the teachers who had lasting impact on their lives, inspiring students to work hard and do their best, or instilling confidence in their ability to follow their chosen path in life.

Today, as part of World Teachers’ Day, teachers around the Kingdom are remembered and honored for their contribution to millions of lives through education, transforming the lives of students.

Albalood is still teaching in the same institute in Alkhobar and helping students to realize their dreams.

The training center is both a kindergarten and a training center for recent graduates and kindergarten teachers seeking further training.

“Being a teacher means pride and appreciation, as it is one of the most important missions in life. We are the early builders of generations and the backbone of the educational system,” Albalood said.

“I wish all the best for every teacher who conveyed his or her message to their students with sincerity, honesty and love.”

Albalood, a kindergarten teacher for over 30 years, has witnessed extensive changes in the education sector, and is recognized by her school, the education department in the Eastern Province and her students.

“I see myself as a human engineer for the kindergarten phase, the first phase of primary education, and I seek continuous training for everything that will serve my education and professional journey,” she said.

At the kindergarten teachers’ training center in Alkhobar, Albalood is remembered by her students and trainees as not only a beloved teacher, but also the best trainer in the field of early childhood education.

Albalood’s devotion to early childhood education led to her using her limited time at home as a mother of six children to create videos online of favorite children’s stories, narrating and engaging with her young audience.

She strongly believes that stories are a powerful tool for teaching children about the world around them, and introducing them to important values and new ideas.

“Storytelling has a positive impact on children’s emotional, social, linguistic and behavioral development, and can enhance their imagination and help them visualize spoken words, improving their vocabulary and communication skills,” she said.

Over the years, Albalood has been alarmed by the lack of awareness among some segments of society of the importance kindergarten education holds as a preparation for primary school.  

She created an awareness program highlighting the need to enrol children in kindergarten to facilitate their social and emotional development, confidence and self-esteem, and boost their pre-math and literacy skills.

Another challenge that Albalood faces is one that coincides with the theme of World Teachers’ Day 2023: “The teachers we need for the education we want: the global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage.”

Many teachers now are responsible for up to 30 students, and have responsibilities that “are far from our primary role in facilitating the education process,” she said.

In celebration of World Teachers’ Day, the Kingdom’s Council of Ministers expressed its appreciation for the efforts of teaching staff, and their role in building generations and creating a bright future for the nation.

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