Emotions ran high for people around the United States and the world this week. This week’s events, and the many months leading up to it, have once again thrown into stark relief the importance of education and opportunity for all. While we undoubtedly have a long way to go, CEI continues to find hope in the tireless efforts of innovators working around the world to defend the right of everyone – irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, health, geography or any other differentiating factor – to a good quality education. We hope you will too.
Below is just a snapshot of the community of committed innovators our network represents.
We Love Reading – empowering women to increase reading among children in their communities
We Love Reading (WLR) aims to provide a practical, cost-efficient, sustainable, grassroots approach that involves women and the community to increase reading levels among children aged 4-10 by focusing on the read-aloud experience to plant the love of reading. The WLR program involves training local women and youth to hold read-aloud sessions in public spaces in their neighborhoods where books are routinely read aloud to children. WLR chooses books that are age-appropriate, attractive, neutral in content, and in the native language of the child. In addition to promoting the experience of reading, WLR empowers women readers to become leaders in their communities, builds ownership in the children and community members, and serves as a platform for raising awareness on issues such as health and environment. Founded in Jordan, We Love Reading has spread to Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq, Tunisia, Turkey, Thailand, Mexico, Malaysia, Uganda, Germany, and Azerbaijan.
AGE Africa – providing opportunities to young women in Malawi through education, mentoring, and leadership development
Advancing Girls' Education in Africa (AGE Africa) supports girls to attend and graduate from public secondary schools in Malawi and even go on to pursue higher education or employment opportunities. The program primarily targets girls from disadvantaged, rural backgrounds, many of whom are at-risk of dropping out, single or double orphans, or affected by HIV/AIDS. AGE Africa works closely with the government - both at the district and central levels - to identify populations in need and introduce the program's unique life skills curriculum to schools across the country. Key components of the program include: (1) a scholarship fund, (2) an extra-curricular program focused on developing life and leadership skills, and (3) tertiary transition programs to support girls as they transition from secondary school to other forms of schooling or the workforce.
Krousar Thmey – ensuring education for children with hearing and vision disabilities in Cambodia
Krousar Thmey, a Cambodian organization that has been providing education for children who are deaf, blind, or have low vision for more than 21 years, manages five schools that cater to children from kindergarten to high school. Besides comprehensive teaching in braille and Khmer sign language, the school offers complementary courses in English and computer skills, as well as traditional training in the arts— specifically in Khmer traditional dance for deaf children and Khmer traditional music for blind children. Krousar Thmey is the first organization that adapted education for children with disabilities in Cambodia and created all the necessary tools, such as braille and sign language. The government is already funding parts of the program, and plans to integrate the entire model into the formal Ministry of Education curriculum and public school system by 2020.
Little Ripples – providing comprehensive early childhood development for young refugee children in Darfur
Little Ripples is a comprehensive early childhood development program implemented in Darfur refugee camps by i-ACT, in partnership with the Jesuit Refugee Service and the refugee community. More than a decade after the start of the Darfur conflict in Sudan, hundreds of thousands of people remain in refugee camps across the border, in Eastern Chad. Through the Little Ripples program, i-ACT and partners provide a safe environment for children to thrive, offering them a shelter, an appropriate meal and daily care. Building upon the findings on early childhood education’s key role in a child’s development, the program works toward preparing students for primary school; while taking into account the specific challenges of a community exposed to severe trauma such as the Darfuri refugee community. Little Ripples also seeks to empower refugee women and uses a participatory-train-the-trainer approach to build the capacity of refugee women to serve as teachers and leaders in providing quality preschool education.
Novos Caminhos (The Pathways project) – combining education, martial arts, and personal development to fulfil the potential of young people in communities affected by crime and violence
Fight for Peace (FFP) was founded in 2000 to work in the favelas of Complexo da Maré in Rio de Janeiro with young people who were at risk of becoming involved in drug-related crime and violence. Fight for Peace adopts a sport for development model which combines boxing and martial arts with education and personal development to realize the potential of young people. The Pathways project is integral to FFP’s education pillar. Launched in 2008, Pathways provides an accelerated school curriculum and further learning opportunities for young people aged 16 to 29 who have been out of school or employment for two or more years. Participants first enroll in literacy and numeracy classes before taking part in fast-track primary and secondary education courses. Pathways students are also integrated into FFP’s employability pillar where they learn how to create CVs, practice for interviews, and develop other job skills to help prepare them for employment. All students attend weekly personal development sessions that are integral to facilitating positive changes in the lives of young people. An evaluation of Pathways found that the project significantly increases the education and employment outcomes of young people living in communities affected by crime and violence. Of all young people who access FFP education programs: 90% complete the courses; 75% progress into further education and/or training; and 85% secure employment.
Tara Hill is a Program Officer at Results for Development (R4D). She leads research, analysis, and strategy development to inform donors' and practitioners' operational, funding, and strategic decisions across the global education and social enterprise portfolios. Tara's recent work has focused on global innovations in education, innovative financing, social enterprises serving bottom of the pyramid consumers, and program evaluation.