Training Teachers in Conflict Zones – using education for hope
by Shanyn Ronis, Education Global Access Program (E-Gap)
In times of crisis, there are always people running towards the problem – not away from it. These are the people who inspire hope in others. And that hope, in turn, is terror’s greatest enemy. This has never been more relevant than today, as the world faces down the largest refugee crisis since World War II, with more than 51 million refugees displaced from their homes by terror attacks and political strife.
Since 2014, E-Gap and its partnering organizations have worked to provide education in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp in an area affected by Boko Haram terror attacks.
Life in an IDP camp is hard. There are food shortages, contaminated water, and too many people living in too few houses. Many international development organizations refuse to work in these conditions, both for the safety of their volunteers, as well as due to the fact that IDP camps are meant to be temporary, which means that programs designed to provide food, water, and shelter by definition cannot be sustainable. Development in these conditions is tantamount to providing a band-aid at best, and with the ongoing push for collecting sustainable and measurable results to make themselves attractive to donors, for many organizations it simply isn’t worth the effort.
So, the question becomes how do we create long-term change in a short-term situation? How do we not only help people survive their current conditions, but prepare them for life after they leave the camps? And, how do we do these things with limited funding?
We believe the solution lies in education. Specifically, we look towards those inspiring people who run towards the crisis, who roll up their sleeves to fill a role they haven’t been prepared for, for no other reason than because it has to be done. And in many cases, these individuals are teachers.
Beginning in 2015, E-Gap is focusing on training 3,000 teachers in global conflict zones and areas of extreme poverty, prioritizing teachers and volunteers who are drawn from the very community they serve.
Using low-tech solutions, including VHS and DVD, as well as mobile phones, our 3,000 Teachers program provides distance-based education designed specifically for teachers working in conflict zones and areas of extreme poverty, who have limited or no experience, whose students are diverse in age, religion, gender, and language, and who may or may not have access to other resources. The cost of this program is roughly $80/beneficiary for more than 100 hours of training. But the benefits are about more than education – they are about creating community leaders who inspire hope and confidence, and beginning to heal the emotional trauma of surviving a terror attack. They are reminding people that the walls of the IDP camp are not the limitations of their lives, and that someday the violence will end.
The Education Global Access Program (E-Gap) works around the world to provide education that leads to real economic change for those who need it most.
Our programs have touched the lives of over 5,000 people on 3 continents through entrepreneurship classes and education and emergency relief for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP's).
Improving education is a global effort. We support our fellow educational organizations with curriculum development and impact assessment services.
Photos courtesy of our partners at the International Coalition for the Eradication of Hunger and Abuse (ICEHA)