Showing posts from April, 2014

Reflections from #TeacherTuesday

After 9 weeks of reading and writing about teachers from across the world as a part of the #TeacherTuesday blog project, I have had the chance to get a glimpse of some of the challenges and success stories when it comes to education. The idea of #TeacherTuesday was to profile the stories of teachers from Kenya, Honduras, Bangladesh, Australia, Afghanistan, Syria, Malawi, the Netherlands and South Africa while addressing some of the findings from the Education for All Global Monitoring report.
Each story was unique and each teacher gave me a sense that there are people  who are invested in making the education of children across the world as meaningful as possible given the environment they are within. Each story was also an opportunity for me to grapple with the questions I have about education, some remain unanswered.
Esnart from Malawi was the first teacher I wrote about. Her story made me realised that there are teachers who work within limitations but inspire a generation of teach…

Week 9 #TeacherTuesday: The calling

There are very few professions that are referred to as “a calling”. The few I know: teaching, being a doctor (traditional healers included) and becoming a religious teacher. There are super-spiritual connotations with the idea of “a calling”. The first time I heard about the idea of “a calling”  was in the context of someone becoming a traditional healer. The idea is that one is called by the ancestors and they are bestowed with special gifts from the ancestors in order to help people through spiritual and physical healings. There is very little choice when one is “called” because “a calling” suggests fate, destiny.The idea that some professions could be “a calling” came much later, but the idea also has the same connotations of “specialness” because someone who has been called to be a teacher has special gifting that allows them to be a teacher, often in the most difficult circumstance.
Mme Shape Msiza is a teacher who thinks of her role as a teacher as “a calling”. She has been tea…

Week 8 #TeacherTuesday:Playing catch up in the classroom

The link between poverty and education is an old story. Education has always been used as a means to an end and as is the case in South Africa, the end is for education to be a tool to get people out of the poverty trap. To illustrate the poverty trap: if a child comes from a poor family (rural or peri-urban context) and the family has little or no experience of formal education, the child is likely to attend a school in the local school which is under resourced and serving a poor community. The child may not be able to escape the poverty trap because it is further entrenched by the education they receive and a vicious cycle is likely to continue where, if they have children their children will most likely have similar experiences if they remain in a poor community and school.
We often think that poorer countries are the only ones that face this problem however, countries like Australia have an interesting narrative. Recently I read about Russell, a teacher from Australia, who shared…

#TeacherTuesday Week 7: Floating schools and how access to technology broadens access to education

Until I read about Mosammet Reba Khatun from Bangladesh, I had never heard about solar-powered floating schools. Mosammet teaches in a remote river basin where access to schools is very difficult, especially during the monsoon season. The boat is an interesting model for making education accessible in poor communities because the boat picks the learners up from home, sails off and returns learners home once their session is complete. Each boat is equipped with internet-linked computers and electronic resources. When a student performs well they are rewarded with a “scholarship” in the form of a SuryaHurricane solar lantern (a low-cost solar lantern made from recycled parts of the conventional and much-used kerosene lantern). Parents also receive on-board training on human rights, nutrition, health and hygiene, sustainable farming, and climate-change adaptations. Reading about Mosammet’s experience has revolutionised my understanding of what technology can do in providing access to ed…

#TeacherTuesday Week 6:What do good grades mean?

“I find it difficult to answer why the Netherlands is doing so well because what do grades mean? To which countries do you compare?” These are the words of a young teacher, Cees, from the Netherlands. The question he poses is an important one for understanding the complexities in global education. Education is measured according to statistics. The statistic obsession begins in classrooms when we measure our students’ abilities according to numbers. But statistics are a necessary evil it seems. Without statistics in education, how do we get a sense of measuring outcomes and talking about how change needs to happen? Cees teaches in a country that boasts one of the best education systems in the world. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment 2012 study the average performance in reading for 15-year-olds is 511 points, compared to an average of 496 points in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. In mathematics on average, 15-year-…