Archive for May, 2015

CCS 2015 – Building the Desired City

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, News, News & Updates, Venezuela

The country manager in Venezuela for Nektarina’s Education for Sustainability project, Vladimir, attended the first CCS Forum, entitled ‘Building the Desired City’. The forum took place in Caracas early in May and had several high calibre speakers, including Wynn Calder, the eminent director of ULSF (University Leaders for Sustainable Futures) and Sustainable Schools LLC. Wynn is the director of Sustainable Schools LLC, co-director of the Association of University Leaders for Sustainable Futures (ULSF), and the review editor of the Journal of Education for Sustainable Development.

Other speakers included Ann Cooper, a chef and advocate of healthy food for children; Larry Black, an expert in environmentally-friendly and sustainable architecture; historian and anthropologist Joseph Tainter; and Nancy Nowacek, visual artist and designer.Wynn Calder

The forum was inspired by and the ideal of a city which offers quality lives to its citizens and future generations, and aims to create a space for considering sustainability. Sustainability is innately linked to this goal, particularly ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the quality of life that current citizens have, and so Wynn Calder’s prominence in the lineup was vital to ensure the success of the forum.

Mr Calder gave a fascinating presentation wherein he discussed some of the ways schools he’s worked with have incorporated sustainability into the education of their students. Many schools had in fact gone further than just this and had made sustainability part of the school ethos – a part of the student’s lives rather than just another box they have to tick.

Prominent among them is a rural school which created a garden, which has truly become a part of the school experience for students there. Now incorporating an outdoor classroom, and a produce section much loved by the school’s chef, they have ensured that each student feels a sense of ownership over the project and gets involved with it in some way.

Other tales include schools now involved in a study on Monarch butterflies, schools taking on mass clean-up actions, schools encouraging children to take more of an interest in how their food is produced and how sustainable it is, and many more. Listening to someone talk about such a wide variety of initiatives was extremely useful for Vlad and the rest of the E4S country managers (who were able to see a video of the presentation).

As I watched the video, I started to think about the differences and similarities between the projects. More than just things like whether it was an urban or rural school, or what age group was being targeted, I considered the ideas and outcomes of the projects and came to a few conclusions.

Perhaps the most important thing about these projects are that the children were not just taking part in them – they were taking ownership of them. Collecting their own data for research studies, clearing their own playing fields, growing their own plants; these schools were not simply teaching the students about sustainability, but really getting involved with it, making them care about it and helping them realise that if they want their younger sibling, their cousin, their own children to enjoy the world as they do, they must act sustainably.

As well as empowering them to take ownership, these projects inspire the children. Whether they are inspired to picture a beautiful, flourishing garden, to imagine their name on a research paper, to consider how it would feel to meet the cows that produce the milk in their cereal – what exactly doesn’t matter so much as the act of inspiration itself.

These projects have captured the hearts and minds of many hundreds of children, and that is what the E4S project aims to do. The experience and expertise of Wynn Calder has been extremely valuable in this, and we can’t wait to put these principles of ownership and inspiration into practice across the Education for Sustainability project.

Education For Sustainability in Sierra Leone, April 2015

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

By George Mansaray, E4S Country Manager, Kiradi Initiatives, Sierra Leone

Introduction

The report under review is specific to the curricular review process and the collaborative efforts of other local organizations in ensuring its success by addressing the actual educational needs of the country.

It also focuses on the new path taken to engage the hundreds of school pupils that became pregnant during the Ebola sit at home ordeal to stay on course.

It further highlights challenges and recommendations for the smooth implementation of the said initiative.

sierra leone

The curricula review process

The review process for April has been fabulous, with lots of interest being shown by national organizations and government departments for the inclusion of sustainability issues in the curricula. The city council, the environmental protection agency and other like-minded groups organized much of the activities. This was a result of several presentations jointly done with local charities arousing their interest on the environmental challenges of the country. The revelations were shocking though and this has prompted further radio debates and community forums on the environment and sustainability.

More so, many organizations are using radio jingles appealing to the government to review the curricula with emphasis on sustainability.

Furthermore, the reopening of schools on April 16 offered the opportunity to use the first two weeks to visit high schools and do presentations on the E4S concept. Fifteen high schools were targeted, two teacher training colleges and ten primary schools.

A strong network has been formed and a proposal to pull resources together to take up the nationwide education campaign for sustainability is being looked into by all participating organizations.

However, the review process has been suspended for the month of May to pay attention to the proper management of schools after missing out for nearly a year.

The education authorities, however, realized that hundreds of young pupils became pregnant during the Ebola sit-at-home campaign. As they number in their hundreds, the girls themselves did not want to miss out in school, and so then the government has proposed an accelerated literacy project for these set of girls across the country. Therefore, a special curriculum will be developed in the month of May to keep these girls in school. The review team is currently working on the task for which I am involved to hammer sustainability to be a direct school subject in the accelerated literacy project.

back to school in sierra leone

The challenges

  • The challenges had been a lack of funds despite the acceptance of the initiative by the government. Lack of funds is not shown to the education authorities; our charity uses miscellaneous funds and salary from Nektarina to keep the initiative afloat.
  • A break in communication across the board
  • Left in suspense with regards the current status of the international office and project implementations across the various projects

Recommendations

  • Prompt response to project activities to enhance work as scheduled
  • Clearer lines of communication for updates to reduce waiting times of country manager and team.

Ebola and What it Revealed in Sierra Leone

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

May 2015, Sierra Leone

Ebola became a household name when it unleashed its wrath on the majority of innocent and ignorant inhabitants of Sierra Leone in May of 2014. There was little knowledge about the Ebola virus and its transmission thread, and its symptoms were the same as malaria, typhoid fever, cholera and other common ailments prevalent in the country.

  sierra leone

However, despite warnings from World health organization emphasizing the deadliness of the disease, not much was in place to stop its spread. It overran the country and became uncontrollable, killing thousands of people and leaving some physically challenged and others bearing the brunt of other consequences such as being orphaned, stigmatized, and fleeing their homelands to would-be protected and safe communities where they met their untimely death.

The consequences did not stop there; it halted commerce, travel and the operations of extractive industries. Most people lost their jobs, schools and colleges closed for almost a year, farmers ate up seeds reserved for farming, and most foreign nationals had to leave. This in its entirety burst the economy with the inhabitants bearing the dire consequences.

There was seen a national and global complacency in the fight against Ebola. The nationals had ill knowledge about the disease and were generally ill-equipped to tackle the spread of the disease. The global response was very slow. Complacency and traditional beliefs overtook the real fight, disregarding the Ebola preventative messages and manipulating funds for self-gain rather than collectively using the resources to eradicate the virus disease.

However, as it became an international grand challenge, the global alliance to fight the deadly virus had a breakthrough in bringing the spread of Ebola under control. The exercises in achieving this success were very costly to the people of Sierra Leone, however, it had to be done, to save the nation from a catastrophic situation. Proactive local measures also make up part of the larger resilience in the fight against Ebola.

The times are yet challenging as the majority of the citizenry are struggling with daily survival. However, as infection rates dwindle, the government ordered the reopening of all schools and colleges on 16 April 2015 with precautionary measures put in place to protect the teachers and learners.

Learners received news of schools resuming with joy. One can feel and sense their joy as they had since been carrying on without the right to education, association and play. Many parents are still skeptical about the safety of their kids while the virus is still killing people, and every parent or guardian should take the time to remind their kids about Ebola, with messages of avoiding companionship, play and contacts of any nature. Schools hold veronica buckets as a policy for every child to wash his or her hands and go through temperature test to qualify for entry into the school compound.

  learners are happy to get back to school after the ebola crisis

The reopening of schools was not spontaneous, the government in itself was not sure of parents sending their kids to school. A national campaign reassuring parents of the safety measures already put in place by the education, health and the national Ebola response centre was done. However, the first week was unpleasant and even the second week. It gained roots in the first week of May when kids turned out in their thousands to rejoin themselves in learning after a restricted safety period of almost one year.

It is worth seeing the reunification of learners, disregarding all precautionary measures and counsel from parents hugging each other and explaining stories about the devastation of their various communities by the Ebola virus disease. They play football together, smack each other and do their tricks. In the heat, they cluster despite knowledge of avoiding body contact.

However, the first lessons are on Ebola in every school across the country. How to sustain the gains already scored in the fight against Ebola. The kids are now torchbearers at home in the fight against Ebola. They pass on the messages to their parents and other family members. They also watch with keen interest defaulters of the precautionary measures at home. They are also bold enough to tell their parents to wash their hands and even have a shower after any trip to the city centre, market, workplace or whatever.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus exposed the overall inadequacies of the country. It spans from poor health care delivery, high illiteracy rate, over-reliance on tradition over modern wisdom, selfish tendencies, filthiness, poor personal hygiene, ugly environmental decay, corrupt nature to the bones at higher levels, poor educational facilities, poor transportation service, very disgraceful social services specific to children’s welfare, greed at every cadre, unsustainable practices at every cadre of society, and disregard for the rural poor. The list has no end in sight…

The consequences are vivid, suffering of the poor in every human rights perspective. Will lessons be learnt – this remains the million-dollar question.

  sierra leone

There are still plenty of needs, but if charities intervene, will the grants benefit the needy or will it go into private pockets and fabulous reports written with beautiful photos to convince donors whilst the actual beneficiaries continue to languish in squalor – this is a great concern. This is borne out of experience working in a poor country like Sierra Leone…living it, feeling it and seeing it. Action taken in mind of this has been positive – frantically stepping out and making noise about it for a turnaround in the situation…this is one way of several other ways employed by the reporter.

Attention should be paid to direct foreign aid; it is worthwhile to come as volunteers to accomplish your heart’s desires of helping; or seek credible local charities to accomplish such tasks in an honest and transparent manner for the good of humanity.