Tag Archives: literacy

Do Umbrellas Make Good Teachers?

Patricia Shafer, August 18, 2017

Teachers with UmbrellasWhen people first hear about our Raising South Sudan education project they often say, “Do you build schools?” Answer: “Yes.”

For example, there’s the Nyarweng Primary School inspired by former Lost Boys of Sudan James Lubo Mijak and Ngor Kur Mayol and their friends Phillips Bragg and Karen Puckett. And we’re improving the facilities of the Gumriak Primary School established by former Lost Boy James Manyror.

But sustainable education also depends on teachers being paid, appreciated, and provided with resources – from classroom materials to coats, boots and umbrellas during the rainy season.

MealsLunch, Tea, Agriculture
Hunger is one big barrier to learning. In 2017, two agencies of the United Nations declared famine in certain parts of the country. At Raising South Sudan project schools, meals are provided to all students. Lunch and tea breaks are a daily treat and motivator for teachers. And through a collaboration with nonprofit Rise Against Hunger, we’ve been expanding gardens and farms to improve nutrition and create cash crops that help sustain schools.

BooksBooks, Materials, Training
South Sudan has an approved national curriculum, but most schools don’t have materials. With donations from US schools participating in our Walk for Wisdom service learning fundraisers, we bought teacher guides and student workbooks for all subjects across all grades. Grants from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Foundation and the Peeler/Casey Foundation funded an illustrated series of folktales and continuous training on lesson plan development for 30+ teachers and staff.

Sarah TeachingWomen, Girls, ECD Innovations
Most women in South Sudan haven’t finished primary school, so teaching staffs are generally male. So, we’re emphasizing education for girls. Thanks to proactive recruiting, girls make up 30+% of students at Raising South Sudan project schools and 50+% in Early Childhood Development classes. We were honored when South Sudan nominated this work for a UNESCO prize for girls’ and women’s literacy.

Gerald and Principal with computerSerious About Testing
Eighth graders (last year of primary school in South Sudan) recently completed mock national exams. The Gumriak school ranked #1 in Ruweng State, and Nyarweng ranked #3. But aspirations are even higher. Teachers must develop “schemes of work” and lesson plans, but professional development is rare. So, in September, our education facilitators are reviewing exam results and helping teachers set personal improvement goals for 2017 final exams and next year.

Will you help us continue this progress? Support the Teachers, Embrace Our Kids.
http://tinyurl.com/RSS-SupportTeachers

We learn a little more each time…

Alas, we won’t be meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

dalai lama

Even when we don’t “win,” we love writing grant and contest applications. The experience forces you to define and re-define what you’re trying to do in the world, how you will go about it, and results for which you aim. If we hadn’t recently entered the Compassion & Technology Contest from Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, we may not have discovered this wonderful quote from center director Prof. James Doty: “[Compassion] . . . is that key that will address the issues that we all think are isolated issues, such as global warming, war, conflict, poverty . . . These are problems of the human heart.”

That one quote again affirmed that we’re on the right track with our program The Global Class & Any1Can Project, which helps teachers and students become familiar with seven complex global issues that touch every community on the planet: poverty, education/literacy, hunger/nutrition, water/infrastructure, environment/sustainability, social attitudes/prejudice (tolerance) and peace/conflict resolution.

In our application, we made the case that schools help infuse youth with a spirit of responsibility and skills to engage in service projects. However, studies by the Corp. for National & Community Service indicate that during the 2000s, the percentage of schools integrating service learning into classroom academics declined. Service is widespread, but not service learning – with calls for investigation, preparation/planning, action, reflection and learning demonstration/communication. Fewer principals and teachers engage in and sustain academic-based service learning (especially global service learning) when faced with budget cuts, lack of easily accessible materials, and a sense of overwhelm.

We proposed transforming The Global Class & Any1Can Project Resource Guide into an iBook linked with an online learning management system. In 2012-13, more than 10,000 teachers utilized our Resource Guide and professional development support. Participating in the Compassion & Technology Contest helped us clarify how the Apple iBooks format could expand and add interactive flexibility to the Resource Guide as a unique, multi-touch format with video, diagrams, 3D objects and movies and facilitate engagement in Apple-compatible Smart classrooms and through Smartphones and mobile devices.

Perhaps, though, our biggest learning was how generous experts are with their time in an effort to make a difference to young people. We wouldn’t have dared apply if it weren’t for Adam S. Brooks, a professional who understands technology application to education pedagogy and extensive experience as a senior developer, learning content manager, and systems administrator on eLearning initiatives. He volunteered his time and counsel without hesitation. And we are grateful.

Now, we just need to find another way to get support and funding to put the idea to work!

Scholarships Change Lives

Patricia Shafer writes…

I sometimes think “seeking sponsors” is the hardest phrase in the English language to write. Our volunteer catalysts and I have visited projects where children are in such extreme need of educational support – Rwanda, South Sudan, Liberia . . . – there’s no doubt that scholarships make a huge difference. But what if you haven’t been there? How do I convey to you that there’s something special, unique and useful about scholarship support in faraway places? Then, I get over myself, just share what I know, and hope for the best. For example:

In Rwanda, the 1994 genocide left behind a population that’s 70 percent female. When the bloodshed stopped, women picked up the pieces to rebuild. Today, there are still more women than men. A Rwandan saying is that a woman is the heart of the house. There are more women in Rwanda’s parliament than any other country in the world. The scholarships that we directly ask Mwiko kids at school FBpeople to support in Rwanda go only to girls. At Mwiko Primary School, where our efforts in Rwanda began, 6th grade girls in the Top Ten of their class would not be able to go to secondary schools without scholarships. Their families are too poor. We send every girl who is sponsored to the Institute for Women’s (IWE) Excellence, the only all-girls’ private school in Rwanda that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math. We’re also beginning to collaborate with nonprofits Seeds of Hope and ALARM to help make sure that girls who graduate from IWE will be guaranteed access to a specially-designed year-long institute to prepare them for lives as influencers. Today, there are more women in Rwanda’s parliament than any other country in the world.

Okay, writing the above, my angst is gone. If you’ve ever thought for even a moment about becoming a scholarship supporter, let us know. Indeed, write me directly and I’ll personally identify candidates for you. pshafer@motheringacrosscontinents.org

 PatriciaShafer sig

 

Change girl’s lives, improve communities

The UN recognizes October 11th as International Day of the Girl. This day is set aside to recognize the unique challenges girls face around the world.
 
While it’s true that in many parts of the world BOTH boys and girls don’t have access to education and literacy, girls are disproportionately disadvantaged in many communities. For instance, in the villages where we build schools in South Sudan, only 2 percent of boys traditionally graduate from primary school. Hard to imagine it could be worse for girls, but it is. Historically, only 1 percent of girls with finish the sixth grade.

Absent change, the long-term negative impact on communities can be devastating. Dreams and a sense of empowerment and self-reliance never develop.
 
That’s why several of our projects focus on providing a stable learning environment for girls and young women. We think it’s a moral imperative and a natural part of a “hand up” vs. “hand out” development strategy. There is also overwhelming evidence that girls’ education, especially at the secondary school level, reduces numbers of early pregnancies, HIV/AIDS infection rates, and infant mortality. Data from the World Bank and IMF suggest that literacy and access to vocational education for girls can improve the overall GDP of a community. As a tool for transformation, educated girls help fuel democratization and income equality – societal qualities that help achieve stability and sustainability.
 Girl Rising Photo
High Hopes Haiti is a flagship example of efforts by Mothering Across Continents project catalysts like Courtney Jackson to empower high school girls and young women. In a community of rural northern Haiti, four workshops have been delivered to help participants dream about the future, imagine careers, and identify skills they need, specifically English, computer literacy and small business management. In August 2013, a record 30 participants completed a three-week institute as a foundation for a year-long program of English, computer and small business training. Find out how you can be a part of our GlobalGiving campaign and positively impact the life of a girl at: http://goto.gg/14935.
 
Join us in celebrating International Day of the Girl!