Tom Sabella - International Inclusive Education Advocate,
GCE-US member and disability-inclusive education advocate Dr. Tom Sabella went to the 10th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In this blog, he notes his observations and insight from the conference.
The truth is that a highly qualified teacher in a positive school culture can support students to leapfrog grade levels and provide relational and social support. These teachers are invaluable and must be invested in, so that they will continue to grow and will themselves invest in thousands of children throughout their careers.
Especially on this day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, it is vital to recognize that unequal access to quality education violates children’s rights and affects all of our futures. Dr. King said, “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.” This is the day to rededicate ourselves to the cause of education and equality, and to do everything we can to level the playing field for children throughout the world.
Bidil Abdulahi has experienced joy and heartbreak in his attempt to send his children to school.
Every day, Bidil Abdulahi would farewell his oldest son, sent off on a one hour walk to the nearest school. “It was a long walk for a child,” he says, “but I didn’t want my child to be as illiterate as I am.”
The decision paid off, with his son Yunus now in college.
My father-in-law squinted. “Why on earth would you want to do that?” he said when I told him I was going to a remote part of Zambia to produce a virtual reality experience for Impact Network, the NGO I work for in New York.
Impact Network runs education programs in rural, off-the-grid communities in Africa. I explained that virtual reality, or VR, would allow us to tell our story in the most immersive way possible. Short of bringing people to Zambia, the experience would transport them to a rural village where they could explore the sights and sounds of a new environment. This would help people to better understand the context and purpose of Impact Network’s work and maybe even want to visit themselves.
It's been nine months since the United Nations committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals "to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all." It's a 15 year window of opportunity to achieve these goals, but how do governments, corporations, nonprofits, and individuals like you and me accelerate impact in each of these areas?
In Nepal, the School Leaving Examinations, or SLCs as they are known are a series of tests taken by students completing the 10th grade. Every student that is seeking to become a graduate looks forward to the SLCs with a sense of dread and anxiety. For many this is quite possibly the toughest examination of their life. The mixed emotions of anxiety, hope, and fear is insurmountable – as people believe that the results of this exam can make or break you. It is also known as the "iron gates" of education (and life) not only because it is difficult to pass, but also depending on how well you do can determine how far you go. Parents usually put pressure on their kids to not only pass, but to do better than your cousins, or your friends, or your neighbor’s children.
School Girls Unite (SGU) is a non-profit organization that raises money to help send girls in Mali to school and advocates for equal education opportunities for all girls. It was founded in 2004 by group of seventh graders who continue to be extremely involved. SGU works with their sister organization in Mali, Les Filles Unies pour l’Education to connect with the students in Mali and receive information about the progress of our 11-year-old Mali Girls Scholarship program. Two current members in our school chapter of School Girls Unite, Ilhan Alyanak and Sophie Cobb, skype with Fatoumata Coulibaly, the president of Les Filles Unies, to unite us with the girls who receive our scholarships and learn about how they are doing in school.
On Thursdays in first grade, I would spend all day looking forward to 11:00, when my class would walk in a line down to the library. I found few things as exciting as pulling out book after book and sounding out titles and flipping through the pages. I would slowly accumulate piles of books I wanted next to me, faced with the horrible dilemma of choosing which two I would check out for the week.