Archive | May, 2011

Michelle Obama on Education

30 May

At the end of last week Michelle Obama, the wife of US President Barak Obama, re-visited pupils from a London (UK) comprehensive school.

The school – Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School – is one of the 2% most deprived in the country, 55 different languages are spoken within its walls, and 92% of the pupils are black or from ethnic minority backgrounds… and yet the school has been classed as “outstanding” by the UK Education inspectors, Ofsted. Michelle Obama’s message to the pupils of this school was clear, inspiring, and universally applicable…

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Learn to use your voice now.”

Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States¹

 

Michelle Obama is a woman who seems exceptional in her education background and career successes. She attended Harvard Law School and is now the First Lady of America. However, she grew up in an underprivileged area in Chicago and often felt discouraged from applying to an elite university. Fortunately, she did not let her background dictate her aspirations…

“I realised that success is not about the background you are from, it is about the confidence that you have and the effort you are willing to invest.”

This is a message that should ring true throughout the whole of the world. Education is the key to betterment – both on an individual level and for wider society. The girls from the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School have been inspired by Michelle’s recent talks in the UK and now feel that the sky is the limit in education. The aspirations in Africa should be no different – post-secondary education will unlock a better future. Iduka calls for more post-secondary education opportunities in Africa; Michelle Obama calls for self-belief and ambition among the world’s youths. Let us encourage the leaders of Africa to hear these cries for progress… the future is in education.

 

¹Image credit: Wikipedia. Joyce N. Boghosian, White House photographer.

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Our plan for phase 2

27 May

At the beginning of May we started phase 2 of our African Pilot Project. During this new phase we are introducing a few changes:

Political Map of Africa

Image credit: Wikipedia. Derivative work by Bobarino | Eric Gaba.

All of these efforts require a much stronger organizational structure that is now being coordinated by an Executive Committee responsible for overseeing six other committees.

We’re going to talk with every person who volunteered during phase 1 and encourage them to reach out to us via Skype (iduka.skype) and to re-enroll by filling out this online form. The project officers and I already started making calls and having one-on-one conversations with anyone interested in getting to know more about this new phase and how to start a Local Outreach Chapter or join a National Outreach Council. Be ready to speak up and provide the feedback we need to shape our project across Africa.

If you’re ready to start a Local Outreach Chapter, simply register it here.

Jolandie Tackles Namibian Terrain

27 May

Travelling towards Windhoek (the capital of Namibia), this is Jolandie’s update in pictures and videos…

Sunday 22nd May and howling winds…

Despite the winds, Jolandie managed 100km in ONE day!!
 
 

Wednesday 25th May

Jolandie does a happy dance because the wind changed from head to tail!

Thursday 26th May

Oops, puncture again...

The big city beckons - 187km to Windhoek

 
Jolandie has met so many interesting and supportive people along the way – word of her ‘Cycle for Eduction’ is spreading and you can be sure that, in Windhoek, she will be met with a mighty reception!

Heading Towards Keetmanshoop, Namibia!

21 May

A long way to go....

The last few days of Jolandie’s travels have been quite eventful. Cycling towards Grünau mid-week (Grünau is the border town between South Africa and Namibia), Jolandie had a 70km cycle to tackle. Late to start due to (yet another) flat tyre, Jolandie had a long uphill struggle and managed to cover 30km in four hours! The following 10km offered a little downhill break and she even stopped by the side of the road for a short while to give her first live radio interview in Namibia on 5 FM! Jolandie definitely knows how to maximise the potential of a day.

 Picking up the road again, Jolandie pushed ahead and cycled well into the moonlight hours. At 21hr15 she called it quits for the day, rolled out her sleeping bag into a nice deep ditch and was out like a light until dawn.

A nice, comfortable ditch - no tent required.

The second half of the road to Grünau was a little faster on Thursday – and Jolandie received plenty of supporting beeps from truckers that passed her by! Today will hopefully be a day of rest for Jolandie if she reaches Keetmanshoop – and very well deserved.

Jolandie is looking very happy after having a warm shower.

I shall leave the final words of this update with the cyclist herself, as she experienced a gesture of friendship and goodwill that will stay with her for the long road ahead. Such a story demonstrates how much she values all of your support along the way…

Diary entry, Thursday 19th May:
“A friend in Windhoek (although we haven’t met, I call him my friend), Raymond Spall, sent me a little gift. A woman came round the corner with a cup and a note in hand. The note read: “from Raymond Spall”. He had organised me a cup of hot milo, all the way from out Windhoek! That small gesture just about had me in tears!!”

A generous, and very welcome, gift!

 

The IMF Successor Must Prioritise Education

20 May

The scandal-fuelled resignation of Dominique Strauss Kahn as head of the IMF has raised some serious issues about who will succeed to lead the financial institution. The IMF has been under increasing pressure to appoint a non-European head, and many anti-poverty campaigners have argued that – due to the state of the global economy – the candidate must be chosen from an international pool of suitable individuals. The key question is – how will the choice of candidate affect education in Africa?

Gordon Brown, ex-Prime Minister of the UK and a potential candidate for the top IMF position, has recently criticised the international community (and the G8 powers in particular) for failing to honour their commitments to the Millennium Development Goal on education. Reforming education, he has indicated, should be a top priority for the IMF under new leadership as there are still 67 million primary-school-age children, and even more adolescent children, out of school. Developing countries require 1.8 million more teachers and further spending on school facilities if they are to realise their economic capabilities.* However, traditional IMF economic planning operates on a three year cycle which puts countries in a difficult position as they cannot always justify short-term spending on education.

Education is a human right

 

Speaking in South Africa, Brown has launched a report that warns of an “education emergency” emerging in the developing world. This emergency will continue to undermine efforts to boost economic growth and tackle poverty if it is left unheeded – therefore the new leader of the IMF must address education as a top priority and reform their current approach.

 *Source: The Guardian

Field Partner Application Form Now Online

20 May

The Field Partner application form is now available online. Before you start filling out the form, please make sure you are familiar with the following:

Sylvanus Murray leading AID-SL relief distribution to street beggars in downtown Freetown, Sierra Leone

If your organization is aligned with our mission and goals and can perform the roles and responsibilities of a field partner, please fill out the Field Partner Application form.
Thank you for your interest in partnering with Iduka!

Meeting With WAY

18 May

Iduka’s outreach representative and liaison with ABC4All, Ntiokam Divine, met today with World Assembly of Youth Secretary General, Ediola Pashollari, to discuss and collaborate on projects related to youth leadership and education.

Ntiokam Divine and Ms. Ediola Pashollari, WAY's Secretary General at the organization's headquarters in Melaka, Malaysia.

The World Assembly of Youth (WAY)¹ is the coordinating body of national youth councils and organisations of over one-hundred national youth organizations from around the world. As the international coordinating body of national youth councils, WAY has consultative status with the United Nations system, the highest status possible for a non-governmental organization. WAY co-operates with the UN and many of its special agencies, particularly with UNESCO, the UNFPA and the WHO.

¹Source: Wikipedia

A New Era of Collaboration

15 May

During the fund development phase (phase 2) that started at the beginning of May, 2011, the focus of our African Pilot Project shifted from setting up teams of student intern volunteers across Africa (phase 1) to working together with local field partners around various fundraising events that include two core initiatives: cycle for education and the creation of student portfolios in our focus areas.

School in D.R. Congo

Tired of seeing pictures like the one above? Want to change the state of education in Africa? You can make an impact by joining our team as an individual or as a field partner. Together we can usher a new era of collaboration to create educational opportunities for underserved African youth.

We would love to hear from you.

(Image credit: Appolinaire Zagabe, D.R. Congo)

Jolandie will soon enter Namibia – What is the education system like?

14 May

In a couple of days Jolandie will be crossing the border into Namibia – South Africa will be behind her and the rest of the journey up ahead. Jolandie says, “For me, the adventure starts here”! The education situation in Namibia has recently been entering the news and so Jolandie could not have better timing on her ‘Cycle For Education’ tour.

All Roads Point to Namibia

A new Minister for Education was appointed for Namibia in March 2010: Dr Abraham Iyambo. Shortly after taking up the position, Dr. Iyambo declared that:

“The Government sees education as an indispensable and long-term investment. The more we invest in the future of our children, the more we can withdraw from those banks of knowledge and the closer we come to attaining our country’s vision.” (Source: newera.com.na)

 However, a year later the situation remains worryingly below acceptable. In mid-April of this year Dr. Abraham Iyambo delivered harsh criticisms of principals, education inspectors, advisory teachers, and textbook officials in Namibia. Dr. Iyambo stated that he has often witnessed teachers and principals arriving to their school unprepared, late or even drunk! Inspectors frequently fail to reprimand the principals not performing to national standard and the interaction between each level of administration within the education sector is poor. (Source: AllAfrica). Of course, a sub-standard education sector will limit the opportunity the country’s youth have of betterment through higher education.

 Jolandie’s cycle tour through Namibia will coincide with the build up to the National Education Conference to be held in the capital from the 27th June where Dr. Iyambo will directly address these issues. Representing Iduka when travelling the country, Jolandie will raise the bar of the education stakes for the Conference (and will hopefully point a few students and volunteers our way!).

 Updates on Jolandie’s travels at the moment will follow soon…

Jolandie will soon cross to Namibia!

Harsh Winds and Kind People

12 May

Beautiful Sky For Jolandie

 

After picking up her journey on the 6th May, Jolandie’s journey has looked a little like this:

 Clanwilliam –> Klawer –> ‘Oom Buys Wiese farm (25km outside of Vanryhnsdorp).

 On the Clanwilliam to Klawer leg of the journey Jolandie met a holidaying couple from Robertson and she chatted to them about her ‘Cycle For Education’ Tour. Unexpectedly, they offered her R100 (local currency) in order to contribute to her journey… with spirits high and confidence in the goodness of humanity she tackled the rest of the day’s journey with ease!

Unfortunately, from Klawer to ‘Oom Buys Wiese farm she faced the strength of Mother Nature and a cyclists worst enemy: harsh winds. The day was slow and extremely tough, when she finally parked up for the night, Jolandie spent her first night in the tent… alone. “It was great!” Jolandie declared – she cooked her supper on a little stove and slept like a baby.

Jolandie's Tent... nice and cosy

 Unfortunately Die Knersvlakte, or the ‘Grinding Plains’, remained. According to Jolandie, “The roads just go on forever and ever and ever…and EVER!!” and on top of that, the wind met her head-on. After a flat tyre and a small collision with the road she made it to Bitterfontein just before sunset.

 Next Stop…. Springbok!

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