“Voices from the Field: Education as a Human Right” by Dhara Naik

In this age of development, it was stunning for me to learn that countless children around the world are being denied an education due to their gender, economic status, or they are living in a war torn country. According to UNICEF data, the number of illiterate youths (ages 15-24) is at 115 million, with the most concentrated in the least developed countries and 59% of the illiterate youths being women. Around the world, 91% of youths are literate, but is simply having the ability to read and write equate to education? Learning to read and write is necessary, but should not the goal be bigger than that? In teaching children to simply absorb information and repeat, what will they gain? It is the application, the practice, and the understanding of the “why” and “how” that makes information important. Critical thinking skills are the key to solving the world’s problems; understanding that if children are taught how to think, rather than what to think, is imperative. By doing this, they will gain the skills necessary to improve our communities, countries, and the world. However, if we leave children educationally handicapped, they will not be able to contribute to society, and the issues of poverty, pollution, and violence will continue. This is especially true in regions of the world that are at the highest disadvantage. Providing food aid or money to these regions is simple, but without eliminating the cause of the problems, we are just treating the symptoms rather than attacking the disease.

ConnecTeach is making an effort to treat this disease. By partnering with schools in underprivileged communities, students are learning critical thinking and problem solving skills, as well as learning what they can do to help their community. I was able to do my part by talking to students who were sharing their thoughts on the discussion boards in response to these lessons. In the brief time I spent reading and commenting on the students’ discussion posts, it became clear how a few skills and encouragement can give a student the motivation to address problems in their community and take initiative to generate improvements. For example, one student expressed how she made an effort to discourage her uncle from putting his son to work and rather, send him to school. She explained to him that an education was key to his son’s future and by putting him to work, he was depriving his son of the ability to build an improved life for himself. Her belief in the value of education and, additionally, her drive to bring that realization to her uncle, was exciting. With students like her learning how to reason, finding solutions, and implementing what they already know within their own community, it is obvious that a higher education gives a student the ability to change the world. Although this is just one response and one story, if we multiply the access to this kind of education the impact will be clear.

Though my contribution to these students seems small, I was able to encourage and praise students who were putting in great effort despite the challenges they face. My role in ConnecTeach did not require me to put my life on hold, give up my life savings, or put in much commitment. ConnecTeach is one of many organizations committed to promoting education in an effort to cure one of the diseases of the world, but they require support.  If we all create or recognize roles for ourselves, no matter how big or small, the solution will come about more effectively. It is purely a matter of taking responsibility for the future and realizing that, regardless of the conflicts around the world, we will win or lose together.

Empowering children through education and critical thinking skills is the cure to the diseases that are plaguing our world. We all should be remembered for providing the solutions, rather than the problems. Therefore, it is necessary for government officials, students, CEOs, teachers, scientists, parents, and anyone who values the future of their country or their world, to support education, wherever they are and especially in the places that are the most burdened. While the inequalities of the world may not directly affect you or do not seem prevalent in your country, that does not indicate their absence around the world. There are still people living without clean water, sleeping with empty stomachs, and suffering from treatable diseases and the solution to all of these inequalities is EDUCATION.

An Evening with Rachel Magoola

Rachel Magoola’s velvety voice will fill the room at J. Gilligan’s in Arlington on Friday, June 2, starting at 7 pm. Voted one of the most influential women and one of the top 25 celebrities in Uganda, she will be performing in North Texas to raise funds to support our teacher and student development initiative in the Iganga District.

 

Prepare to dance and donate to a project that will impact over 1,300 teachers and 30,000 students. There is no cover fee, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Support of any size will be gratefully accepted.

We hope to see you there!

 

Our Plan for Iganga District, Uganda

Our Plan for Iganga District, Uganda

OUR PROJECT: PROVIDE AN EDUCATIONAL MODEL THAT IMPACTS 30,000 UGANDAN STUDENTS

In 2013, approximately 65 million adolescents were out of school. A third of these adolescents live in sub-Saharan Africa (UNICEF Out of School Children Data Release, 2015).

Fifty-seven percent of secondary age children in Uganda have not completed a primary school education (National Education and Policy Center, 2014). Even more troubling is the decline in the quality and relevance of educational outcomes (see, for example, EPDC Spotlight on Uganda). As a result, communities have little incentive to keep children in school, and those who stay learn few skills to apply what they have learned for the good of the community.

Remaining on the current path will likely result in systemic failure. The proportion of out-of-school children will grow, the skills taught in school will be inadequate and irrelevant, and the efficiency and effectiveness of the money spent will decline.

Our method shifts educational emphasis, broadening traditional academic goals with the development of the skills needed to effectively address real community issues. By adding critical thinking and problem-solving skills, value-based prioritization, greater independence, and self direction to a solid foundation of academic skills, our pedagogy is designed for relevance and lifelong learning.

Our approach sets adolescents on a direct path to relevant and productive careers, effecting desperately needed economic progress within their communities, while exposing and resolving the social issues that are the barriers to progress in the first place: social injustice and exclusion, gender inequity, and poor personal health and well-being.

Our proposal is a partnership between ConnecTeach, and the Menya Zirabanuzale Schools (MZS) in the Iganga district of eastern Uganda. We have worked together before at the WalugogoTeacher Training College, one of the organizations under the MZS umbrella.

Our project will impact 1,300 teachers and 30,000 secondary students from 72 schools in 88 parishes in north and east Iganga.

You can support this project by clicking the “Donate” button or joining our GoFundMe campaign (www.gofundme.com/connecteach4uganda ). Just $5 can go a long way toward reaching our campaign goal. Please share our campaign link with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

By helping us, you help us all. 

Thank you.

 

ConnecTeach Speaker Series: Jolly Okot

ConnecTeach Speaker Series: Jolly Okot

JOLLY OKOT

Activist and Producer of The Rescue: The Story of Joseph Kony’s Child Soldiers

Please join us at ConnecTeach World Headquarters to hear Jolly Okot’s inspiring story.

March 20, 2017, 6 – 8 p.m.

8411, Sterling St., Irving, TX 75063

Donations gratefully accepted.

“The change people want to see
in Africa starts with empowering
women…Education is the vehicle
of hope and the instigator of
lasting change.”
— Jolly Okot

 

Jolly Okot has dedicated her life to improving the lives of women in Northern Uganda.

She believes nothing is more powerful than education and
has shared her inspiring story worldwide—from high school
auditoriums to the oval office, Influencing the lives of all
who listen.

By providing women with employment, empowerment and education, Jolly is giving Northern Uganda the kind of hope that will last for generations upon generations.

Today is #PrimeDay! #StartWithaSmile and @Amazon donates to Connecteach.

Today is #PrimeDay! #StartWithaSmile and @Amazon donates to Connecteach.

Today is #PrimeDay! #StartWithaSmile and @Amazon donates to Connecteach.

Go to http://amzn.to/29Tx1we

Prime Day-July 12, 2016

ConnecTeach Receives Dell “Powering the Possible” Grant

ConnecTeach Receives Dell “Powering the Possible” Grant

ConnecTeach is honored and proud to be the recipient of a one-year Dell Powering the Possible learning grant to support youth learning initiatives in partnership with Hope Foundation, Chennai, India.

Dell Powering the Possible

Empowering the Next Generation provides tools, resources, and opportunities for teachers and students to move beyond basic technology skills and integrate digital literacy into Hope Foundation-affiliated classrooms so that children can achieve the critical 21st century learning skills to be globally competitive.  Empowering the next generation requires empowering their teachers, not only with the strategies to facilitate instruction so that all students are engaged, but also with the digital literacy needed to develop student skills to be on par with those who have privileged access to education.  A recent report on BBC News (Footnote 1) shows that there is an appalling 100-year gap in educational levels between students in developing countries when compared to their peers in developed countries. The intriguing question they pose is whether there is a “technological way for education systems to leap-frog a few stages forward.” We believe there is–by providing a strategic process whereby technology is viewed as a highly effective tool to complement classroom instruction, “a powerful springboard to higher-level learning”, that replaces a disconnected activity to be tacked only when time permits.

Empowering the Next Generation develops teacher instructional skills that are integrated with digital literacy. It is critically important for teachers and school leadership to increase their level of ICT competence in order for students to develop ICT skills.  Incorporating teacher outcomes into this project ensures scalability and sustainability of student learning outcomes. A balanced approach to improving student achievement and youth learning ensures that all stakeholders understand and acquire the skills and knowledge to effectively use digital resources and critical thinking skills to navigate a 21st century education. This also allows for grade-level and subject area alignment of instructional strategies, which increases the opportunity for collaboration among teachers as well as ensuring long-term student success.

A Few Words Mean So Much- A teacher shares what we do…

A Few Words Mean So Much- A teacher shares what we do…

At ConnecTeach, we know we’re making a difference in the lives of the teachers we train and in turn, in the lives of the students they teach. It’s always good to hear our mission affirmed though the words of the teachers themselves.

We just received this note we’d like to share:

“Bhavani and Amy-

Thank you so much for all your hard work and kind support to us. I really appreciate your heart and passion towards education. I really salute for your courage to change the attitude of the teachers in the teaching field.

I am very grateful to God for giving us the right people in our life to guide us. In school, we have changed in many ways. Thanks for showing us the right path to lead the school.

For me, it’s difficult to pick what I liked best [from the workshops]. All the trainings I like very much… I enjoyed a lot & learnt a lot. Once again, a BIG THANK YOU for all your support and love.”

– Kala Vathi, principal, Hope Foundation CA Study Centre School, Hyderabad

The Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation Backs ConnecTeach

The Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation Backs ConnecTeach

We at ConnecTeach are thrilled to announce that we’ve received funding from The Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation for our project, Empowering the Next Generation. This grant funding supports our work with the slum schools in Noida, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

The Educational Foundation awarded $99,830 to fund 27 educational projects in communities around the world. We are honored that we were selected to be among those grant recipients.

The Educational Foundation supports and encourages intercultural understanding and educational excellence. Established in 1964, the Foundation is a non-profit organization located in The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Headquarters in Austin, Texas. The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, established in 1929, is an honor organization for women educators in 18 countries.

 

ConnecTeach at CARE Seminar: Addressing Equity Issues in Education

ConnecTeach at CARE Seminar: Addressing Equity Issues in Education

CARE India’s seminar, “Addressing Equity Issues in Education” kicks off January 29 with an aim to provide a platform for a discourse on highlighting and addressing educational equity issues and challenges vis-a-vis teacher preparation and development; among policy makers, practitioners, civil society representatives and researchers in the region. Leading national and international experts and practitioners will share, debate and discuss issues derived from cutting edge research and evidence based practices. The ultimate goal is to make specific recommendations to promote evidence based practices and teaching – learning processes in India.

Bhavani Parpia, ConnecTeach President, will speak on the topic of Understanding how to Address Issues of Equity through Teacher Education, in which she’ll explore what teacher training models and methodologies are effective in bringing changes in teachers’ beliefs and practices.

The three-day seminar will cover:

  1. Issues of Inequity in our Education system
  2. Getting to the Roots: What are the barriers towards achieving equity in our education system? (Two parallel sessions)
  3. School-based approaches in promoting Equity and Diversity
  4. Understanding how to address issues of Equity through Teacher Education
  5. Addressing issues of Equity through Teacher Support Structures: Sharing Experiences/ Strategies
  6. Towards Possible Strategies for taking forward the Equity Agenda (Two Parallel sessions )
  7. VII. Community Involvement Towards Greater Equity
  8. VIII. Strengthening monitoring and accountability mechanisms to ensure equity targets (Panel Discussion)

“The challenges to achieving equity in education in India are complex and entrenched, but not impossible to overcome. ConnecTeach is thrilled to be a part of the important conversation that will take place at this seminar and we look forward to coming away with a shared understanding of what we must do to achieve equity in education.” said Ms. Parpia.

Problem Solvers Come in Bright, Dull and Naughty

Problem Solvers Come in Bright, Dull and Naughty
By Robert Barrie

Is your child bright, dull, or naughty? These are terms we have often heard teachers use to describe their students when we begin training sessions. The bright children help teach the dull ones, and the naughty ones are the real problem. The terms sound a bit quaint and even oddly charming, partly as a function of how English is spoken in India—strongly flavored with Colonial British elements. But really the attitude such thinking reveals is neither uniquely Indian nor even unique to developing nations. This kind of thinking about students is a relic of the industrial age, and it is a mindset that the developing world doesn’t need any more than the developed world does.

Public education as we know it has its roots in the need for a reliable workforce for the factories that drove the economies of the day. The bright children could be groomed for managerial positions, the dull ones could be trained to follow directions consistently, show up on time, and not create problems. That left the naughty ones, who were bound for the army, or prison. Teaching didn’t require much more thinking about the children than that. But now economies are driven by more than just industry or agriculture. There are information economies, service economies, tourism economies, health-care economies, and the industrial economies of today require far more technical mastery and problem-solving ability on the factory floor than was once necessary.

As the forces driving the economy have multiplied and increased in complexity, our thinking about students must as well. Bright students are not simply bright. They may be adept at mathematics or literacy in particular. They may be good at following directions and meeting expectations, but struggle when original thinking is necessary. Dull children are not simply dull. They appear that way because of learning disabilities, or because they get no encouragement to challenge themselves, or because the kind of skills needed to succeed in the classroom are not their areas of strength. Naughty children may be acting that way due to boredom, or lack of intellectual challenge, or because they find they get more attention that way. Perhaps their naughtiness is really an expression of intellectual risk-taking and a desire to transcend limitations (qualities many businesses actively seek when hiring).  Whatever the causes may be for a child to appear bright, dull, or naughty, those descriptors are symptoms, not inherent character traits. Good teaching looks beyond the surface behaviors to find ways for all children to succeed.

In the developing world, wireless technology is leap-frogging ahead of the old hard-wired networks to bring communities that recently lived a nineteenth century life-style directly into the twenty-first century. There is no point in laying land lines everywhere where it is easier and more cost-effective to jump straight to wireless. Education can work the same way. With micro-loans and self-help organizations generating small business opportunities in rural areas, and the technology industry booming in places like Bangalore and Mumbai, Indian employers need creative problem solvers every bit as much as American employers do. Why turn out workers prepared only to follow directions and show up on time? They don’t fulfill the needs of the 21st century economy in the developed world, and they will not be much use to the developing world either.