Archive for the ‘Emergency Education’ Category

The founder of OGV speaks with conference attendees.

Our Global Victory was pleased to be a guest at the 2010 Voices for Africa conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on April 10, 2010.

Speakers included Dr. Shirley Burchfield from World Education, Dr. Tatiana Carayannis from the Social Science Research Council, and Godfrey Orach Otobi, a student of Fletcher School at Tufts, who shared his personal experiences growing up in conflict.

Rich discussions followed informative presentations on topics aimed at highlighting the challenges of accessing quality education faced by African children in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Some thought provoking issues that were discussed were:

The Youth Bulge in Africa

Participants discussed how the youth bulge in Africa will affect the economy and the possibility of increasing future conflict. Many states greatly affected by conflict in Africa are made up of over 50% youth under the age of 25. Many young people have not had access to education for many years and have lived in traumatic situations. Some scholars believe that these youth will be more likely to become involved in future conflict. However, the overall consensus of practitioners and researchers at the conference was that this was an extremely important opportunity to provide these youth with opportunities and that they could influence their states in positive ways that would result in economic growth and peace for Africa.  Discussed by Dr. Tatiana Carayannis of the Social Science Research Council.

GET INVOLVED! Forego two lattes this year – and make a small donation of $10 – to build classrooms for a post conflict refugee community in Uganda so they can become more sustainable!

Dr. Carayannis, Richard Opio, and Dr. Mendenhall

Getting Vital Information to the People of Africa

With limited resources, how can positive messages and accurate news spread through Africa? Many practitioners and advocates are harnessing the power of radio to reach the African populations. Organizations such as Search for Common Ground, are utilizing the radio to promote peace between groups and empower young people using interactive programming. Other organizations offer important educational information including agricultural, disease prevention, and objective news to help increase political participation from villagers. Discussed by Sally Chin of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Adult Literacy Education

A crucial need that is often overlooked in literacy education is the need to educate illiterate adults in a meaningful way. This includes finding out what they need and want to learn and what would be most useful for them to learn. Some possibilities of note were how to make prices in the marketplace, basic literacy, and issues useful to their everyday lives. Most adults do not wish to go through the rigorous literacy programs that are taught to children in primary school and need a program that is adapted to suit their lives. Discussed by Atema Eclai of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

GET INVOLVED! Forego two after dinner desserts this year – and make a small donation of $10 – to give adult education to people in the marketplace of Vandeika Benue State Nigeria so that they can afford to send their children to school!

Sally Chin, Joe Read, and Atema Eclai

The afternoon talk given by Godfrey Orach Otobi on The Effect of Conflict on Education in Uganda tied the conference together and made people appreciate a deeper understanding of the days topics. Godfrey described growing up in conflict and how his experiences made it impossible for him access a quality education. He described how he and his classmates fled for their lives from rebels who captured them repeatedly after every escape. Despite constant trauma, it was his mother’s inspirational words and thoughts on education that gave him the strength to survive. He now advocates on behalf youth in Uganda and to giving them opportunities for a bright future.

The overall tone of the conference can best be described by Atemi Eclai’s words when she urged people to look at Africa “through a lens of hopefulness”.



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n506764147_628240_7819There has been a lot of buzz lately about the latest version of the Amazon Kindle – the DX – and its potential role in higher education. The DX version of the Kindle has a larger screen and was created to market to customers who enjoy having their newspaper subscription appear remotely on their e-Readers. The larger screen allows users to view more of the article at one time. It is atypical for a company to offer a larger electronic device after offering a smaller version and charge more for it. However, newspaper readers may enjoy a device that better simulates the paper version.

Now there is talk about the e-Reader replacing textbooks in colleges. This would greatly reduce the amount of paper used in producing college materials, especially when new versions of textbooks come out yearly with only a few small changes. Eventually, these changes could be downloaded like software updates. Amazon announced that Pearson Education, Cengage Learning and Wiley Higher Education have agreed to make their textbooks available in the Kindle store and six colleges will test the device later this year. Although the price point on the e-Reader is too high for mass marketing (about $500), it is less expensive than a years worth of textbooks – if the e-versions are not expensive.

Outside of higher education, less expensive e-Readers could help underprivileged children have access to books that they would normally not have access to. How about One e-Reader Per Child? In many areas of world, communities do not have access to current textbooks. They use older versions that do not have updated theories on science or updated accounts of history. Or, in some cases, teachers must teach only from memory.

This is especially true in refugee populations, with internally displaced people, and other education undertaken in emergencies. Setting up a school in crisis, is an important way to keep children safe and reduce possible post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. It also greatly increases opportunities for children. If humanitarian agencies were equipped with rugged low cost e-Readers, children could have access to their national curriculums without the need for traditional textbooks, which they are unlikely to carry with them in the case of an emergency migration. If each child was using an e-Reader, their education would suffer less from disruption and they could continue their progressing to the next education level.

E-readers would reduce the costs of producing textbooks and shipping them to remote areas. Children could have access to the latest versions of textbooks with up to date historic accounts and scientific discoveries. They would also have access to dictionaries, other reference manuals, and a library of fiction and non-fiction books which would not be available otherwise. Ultimately, children would be better able to compete with students outside of their communities, have more opportunities, become better-equipped leaders, and have a greater chance for success.

It is important for us to think about how new technologies can positively impact underprivileged communities because all communities are inter-related and integral for a healthy world.

Please note: The phrase ‘One e-Reader Per Child’ is a tribute to the One Laptop Per Child program which seeks to provide low cost laptops to children in the poorest communities.

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