The Importance of Education
Education is something we cannot allow ourselves to neglect – the impact it has on nations worldwide is undeniable. The Sustainable Development Goals 2030 also point out the relevancy of education and the urgency of ensuring inclusive quality schooling for everyone.
World Teachers’ Day
5 October marks the celebration of the World Teacher’s Day. Education and the importance of teachers are things we need to appreciate and value and this is exactly why the World Teacher’s Day exists. This year the topic is “Young Teachers: The future of the Profession”.
World Teacher Day provides the necessary occasion to appreciate and celebrate the teaching profession worldwide. Furthermore, the 2019 topic put emphasize on the relevancy of young teachers who are playing a crucial role in today’s education system
What can we do?
Marking the progress and reflecting on the ways we can counter the challenges regarding teaching and learning are important steps towards positive development.
During the years, UNESCO has adopted different topics putting the focus on various aspects of education. One thing to take away from all of them is that everyone can help celebrate and appreciate the profession. Teacher respect, above all, is of utmost importance to ensure that people will not be pushed away from the profession and will keep practicing it with pride and honour. Ensuring the right teaching and learning conditions are evident is also one of the most important aspects.
Education is a fundamental human right and a worthy social initiative with tremendous impact on numerous aspects – poverty, health, human rights, equality to name a few. The quality of education is the main factor for the social and economic growth of each nation.
What is being done?
Humana People to People India
There are a lot of factors hindering the access and quality of education in India. Poor education, lack of teacher, lack of interest, poor conditions – a few examples of drawbacks which are still unfortunately present.
The Indian Government is taking measures to improve the situation by implementing different regulations (e.g. the Right to Education Act 2009) and implementing frameworks with the goal of increasing the quality of teaching.
Humana People to People is putting a lot of effort into improving the education situation in India as well. Projects which provide knowledge, skills, techniques, and information to enable people to reach their full teaching and learning potential are an integral part of HPPI’s agenda.
So far, the organization has implemented six educational programmes – all dealing with different aspects of the issue.
Teachers trained so far
The Necessary Teacher Training Programme
Four districts, twenty-three state-run teacher training institutes, over 6 900 elementary school teachers trained, 3 000 primary school students benefited. Currently, over 4 000 more teachers are undergoing training to raise the standards of education. The impact of the project is already evident and its potential is just growing with each day.
Teachers trained at PRARAMBH
PRARAMBH School for Teacher Training
220 future teachers are currently being trained in the PRARAMBH School of Teacher Training. This expermental project with a non-traditioinal teacher training programme is developed in collaboration with the Haryana Government and consists of a four-year teacher training programme. 65% of the student teachers are young women.
Kadam Step Up
Kadam Step Up is a programme aiming for quality enhancement of teaching and learning in elementary school. The project has two main approaches – one is providing a learning system which showcases a clear goal of what needs to be learned and how it can be done. The second one is a hands-on training approach which allows teachers and students to put theory into practice together and make learning easily comprehensible.
Working children attending school
Academy for Working Children
The Academy for Working Children is based on the Kadam Step Up programme and aims to provide quality education for out-of-school children and give them a chance for development. The academy has also implemented regular computed classes for women and youth as well as evening classes for children who required additional assistance. Since its establishment in 2005, the academy has benefitted over 13 00 dropouts.
Girls attending bridge course
Girls Bridge Course
The project is an after-school programme for girls in elementary school. It aims to develop social and creative skills and improve the learning level of girls by giving them equal learning opportunities and inspiring them to stay in school. Currently, the project is affecting over 8000 girls.
Women’s Literacy Training
Integrated as a Community Development projects as well as stand-alone programmes the Women Literacy Training of HPPI has trained over 100 000 women in 2018.
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Some advice from an ex-volunteer
Sharing volunteering experiences
This is advice given by Anna Gudarowska who wrote a book about her volunteering experience.
It inspired us to look deeper into the meaning of responsible volunteering, or “volunteering shoulder to shoulder” as Anna puts it – and share the most important aspects of this approach.
In her book “The Law of the Jungle”, Anna Gudarowska shares her experience as a long-term international volunteer with Richmond Vale Academy’s programme. She exposes the truth about volunteering and takes notice of the importance of responsible volunteering over short-term voluntourism.
Our actions have a great impact on others and if we are not careful we can easily end up causing more damage than doing good despite all the well-meaning intentions we have at heart.
One of the insights Anna shares is this: If volunteers want to achieve positive impact and long term change they need to be properly prepared and trained. Proper preparation is also essential for the volunteer to avoid disappointment by being more realistic about what to expect and simply get the best possible experience.
Working with the people means that volunteers are offering support and collaborating with the community instead of “saving them”, doing the job, and leaving.
Prepare yourself. The longer, the better!
Anna emphasizes how important the training period before the actual volunteer work was for her. It helped her grasp the scope of the project and the impact she would be making in people’s lives. It also showed her that volunteering must be taken seriously to have the desired effect.
As she says – the longer the training, the better prepared you will be for the project. Her studies, field trips and workshops gave her the knowledge on poverty, inequality, colonialism, possible causes and solutions, the reality of the country where I was going, health, nutrition, organic gardening, sustainable energy, recycling and much more.
The community life at the training centre also contributed to her problem-solving skills, resolving conflicts in an appropriate way, finding the best ways to reach goals by cooperating with others, taking initiatives and overall teamwork skills.
The best way to truly understand the value and importance of responsible volunteering is by hearing about it from a person who has felt its impact first-hand. “The Law of the Jungle” – a book by Anna Guadrowska tells about her encounter with volunteering and its various aspects in around 90 engaging pages.
Taking time to understand
Anna explains that the start of the project period also took some time. She and her team spent the first weeks after arriving in Belize, where her project was based, together with the volunteers who had already done work there and who were familiar with the environment.
The people who had already worked in the community shared experience and educated newcomers with the essential things they need to know. Furthermore, they helped the new volunteers get familiar with the way the community in Belize works, getting advice and tips based on the learned lessons.
Spending time with the project leaders to get an understanding of their reality and talking to them was also essential. Getting familiar with the structure, studying and adjusting guidelines, learning rules and objectives.
The first month was spent getting to know people, doing surveys with every family in the village, meeting the village council and other community leaders such as the principal at the school.
Anna writes: “This wasn’t a fascinating time, but it was necessary for us to create the change that was needed and supported by the community.”
Working with the people
Anna describes the project itself as “working with the people not for the people”. This is the fundamental difference between responsible volunteering and other types of volunteering.
Working with the people means that volunteers are offering support and collaborating with the community instead of “saving them”, doing the job, and leaving. The latter would leave the people with little value as they will not know how to sustain the effects of the project after volunteers are gone. On the contrary, working with the community has many benefits and serves as a foundation for a long term positive development.
Listening to the experts
To begin with, volunteers who go to “help people” in a foreign country are not the experts there. The experts are the local people – they know best what the biggest need is and how most situations should be approached. Seeking advice and guidance from people who are familiar with the needs of the community is the only way to make sure that your project will have actual value and will benefit people in a meaningful way – also in the long term.
This is what sustainability means: “the ability to continue a defined behaviour indefinitely”. Therefore, a development project needs to ensure that all factors involved – environmental, social and economic – are in balance. The community will have a deep understanding of the project, know how to maintain what has been started and continue the activities by themselves, far into the future.
Be realistic about your skills
Anna gives examples of how her team was contributing to their library project in the right way. The volunteers were not trained carpenters so instead of building shelves for a library they focused on obtaining new books, designing the room and making the digital and printed database for it.
Clearly, the volunteers were not better farmers than the villagers who had been farming for generations, so they did not try to teach them how to grow their own vegetable gardens. Instead, they promoted the use of organic local materials and sustainable eco-friendly farming methods.
The best results can only be achieved by combining the volunteers’ knowledge and skills with those of the community. This utilizes the competences of all parties involved and leads to long-lasting results with relevant improvements which the community actually needs.
In addition, it also helps build trust and promotes cooperation – Anna mentions that at first, the locals were skeptical to trust the newcomers but by getting to know them and working together for a while they got quite close to each other and managed to improve their teamwork in a great way. By the end of the project, the community was eager to have more input from international volunteers in their future projects.
Some advice for prospective international volunteers
At the end of her book, Anna summarizes her successful experience and formulates some simple guidelines for people who are thinking about becoming an international volunteer:
- Take your time. Volunteering abroad is an adventure of a lifetime, so make sure it will make a positive impact. Research the organization you have found. Talk to former volunteers and investigate where the money goes.
- Preparation period. Relevant training is gold. The longer, the better!
- Utilize the skills you already have. Don’t steal anyone else’s job. Make sure your input to the projects is an asset to the community.
- Work with people. Work shoulder to shoulder as equals.
- Spend as much time as possible at the projects. Months.
- Enjoy the experience! It might be the most memorable and meaningful experience in your life. Choose a project you feel passionate about and pack your bags!
Read more about aspects of responsible volunteering
On International Charity Day we ponder the differences between charity and solidarity. Charity, according to the United Nations, plays an important role in bringing about positive change. Is this true?
Examining your role as an international volunteer is important. Getting into listening & learning mode requires discussion & specialised training.
What does it mean to be a solidarity activist? Solidarity activism’s essence consists of fighting shoulder to shoulder with others to bring about positive change in the realms of equality, justice and prosperity.
Reflecting on your experience is an important aspect of any volunteer programme. It is highly valuable not only for you but also for others. What did you learn from reality?
Are you researching how to go about volunteering abroad in a responsible & ethical way? In this post we share some resources that we think could be useful for you – at least we hope so!
“Take your time. Prepare yourself. The longer, the better. Be realistic about your skills and use them wisely. And finally: Work with people. Solve problems shoulder to shoulder.”