By Shahzad Mahmood
International or foreign aid is distributed to countries that do not have the resources to meet primary needs. There are two forms of international aid: short term and long term. Short-term aid, also known as emergency aid, is given when a country is in need of crucial supplies during a natural disaster or in times of war. The supplies usually include food, shelter, medical care and water. Short-term aid is important when the people affected are in need of crucial supplies to survive.
Long-term aid is used to help a country develop through establishing schools, hospitals, roads, irrigation and sanitation systems. The ultimate goal of long-term aid is to provide a backbone for the country and its people so they can move forward and help themselves.
True Volunteer Foundation provides long-term aid through its focus on providing education to those who do not have access to opportunities for personal development; be that by providing access to finance and training to run a small business or building a school so children have a place to learn and grow.
There is the age-old saying, “give a man a fish and he will eat for the day; teach a man to fish and he will eat every day”. Education is at the heart of change – it teaches, trains and assists understanding so ultimately every individual can support themselves and their community. With access to quality education people can break the poverty cycle, without access to education many poor families become trapped in poverty for generations due to having limited knowledge and skills on how to break the cycle.
TVF has set up nurseries and primary schools for children to get a head start, providing them with the same opportunities as other children around the world and hopefully inspiring them to pursue other interests such as medicine, technology or even agriculture. TVF has also been involved with other types of education projects, such as setting up community centres for adults to learn more about how they can utilise their resources to benefit themselves and their families.
The role of education in poverty eradication is crucial; only countries who have good educational systems have achieved self-sufficiency, growth and prosperity. There are many challenges in achieving an equal and quality education for everyone across the world, particularly in countries that face extreme poverty and hardship. NGOs and governments must continue to work together to improve access to education – quality education can truly change the world and empower people to help themselves.
Children tend to love playing outdoors with other children. It is so much fun to be surrounded with other children at school who can share your interests in playing sport, action jumping, running activities and everything in between.
It always seems to be never-ending fun for them in the school playground. Children never get tired or bored. This is an image that we all are used to – seeing children smiling and generally happy at school is an ordinary thing for many of us in the UK. And it is great!
Thanks to the ‘Burma 2012’ project that was completed last year, many children living in small villages like Thin Yone Pyan, Kwai Thay and Kan Ni in Burma (Myanmar) have begun to experience the same. Three new schools were built for the local communities with funding provided by True Volunteer Foundation and its supporters. The new schools were completed in partnership with Heal Kids Foundation and provide schooling, support and not to mention fun to 180 local children per year.
The project has changed many Burmese children’s and their parent’s everyday lives. It has got much brighter and busier. Exploring the world through education is an exciting and new activity for the local children. This is how some of the children describe their new experience’ I love to meet my friends at school’, ‘Now I can tell interesting stories to my little brother’, ‘I like to draw’ etc. These are just a few examples on how encouraging school can be for someone who had not had an opportunity to experience it before.
TVF is currently running a ‘Burma needs school’ campaign. We will tell more about it our next blog post.
Written by Naveed Anwar
The lack of a good education is one of the biggest causes of poverty across the globe. Having an educational infrastructure (i.e. schools) is only half the battle. Teacher training is crucial and often the missing element. In order to get a good education children need to have teaching methods which motivate and offer them freedom to learn while in school, and this is where the “chalk and talk” teaching fails.
“Chalk & Talk” is a formal method of teaching with a blackboard and the teacher’s voice as its focal point. This method is used in classrooms across the world. However, this formal and somewhat unimaginative teaching method has come under scrutiny, with many people suggesting that teachers should not rely solely on this technique if they want to engage and inspire their students. Another criticism is that this method of teaching tends to go with the pace of the fastest learner and can leave a lot of children behind, particularly if they have had no pre-school learning.
Through using no teaching aids the “chalk and talk” method fails to stimulate many students’ interests in learning. Education needs to be more practical, should allow children to express themselves and learn independently at their own pace. Montessori education is an alternative approach to the traditional “chalk and talk” which allows children to shape their own learning and develop sensory, numeric, language and practical skills. Montessori education is hands on and keeps children stimulated. With “chalk and talk” some students are not attentive in class and do not naturally have the motivation to learn. With no utilisation of teaching aids, charts, slides and pictures, teachers are unable to capture the imagination of their students. The failure to enthuse students has resulted in many young people leaving school without the knowledge and skills to help them aspire and do well in the future.
In this regard “chalk and talk” fuels the cycle of poverty, which refers to a set of factors by which poverty, once started, is likely to continue unless there is outside intervention. Poor families become trapped in poverty for many generations due to having limited skills to break the cycle.
So what needs to be done to tackle this problem and create greater opportunities for young people? Several charities such as TVF and Futurelab believe that teachers must alter traditional teaching methods and adopt more activity-based approaches as well as class participation between the student and the teacher. Learning becomes more interesting and significant when students are actively involved. Having a school infrastructure is only half the battle; teachers need to be trained so they are fully equipped to maximise both the facilities and the opportunities for their students.
In 2010, the Education Secretary Michael Gove proposed to axe £162m in ring-fenced funding for a national network of School Sports Partnerships. In the wake of an outcry from athletes, pupils and opposition MPs Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a partial U-turn; however, the ring-fenced funding was still cut by 69 per cent and only guaranteed until 2013. So why is sports education the first to be cut?
As financial austerity measures begin to take their toll the balancing act of what to fund and what to cut becomes more challenging. UK school budgets are extremely tight and any required savings tend to come from deleting or reducing certain aspects of the curriculum. Due to the importance placed on more traditional subjects such as English, Maths, Science and History, subjects with less academic weight lose out on funds once budgets become tighter.
Sports education tends to fall in the latter category, and with these cuts heavily affecting schools it is feared that this will greatly impact on the amount of sport that is played by children both now and in the future. Adding to this concern is the drive towards selling off precious playing fields; to date 22 sport pitches across London have been approved for sale, which does not support the 2012 Olympic legacy.
Many studies highlight that the amount of hours children spend indoors on computer games is in keeping with their becoming less active. In addition high computer game usage does not allow children to envisage a realistic future career, which, as a result, could affect their school achievements. This is extremely unfortunate as sports education is critical to a child’s development. Sport provides young people with the opportunity to express themselves and provides important lessons in teamwork, discipline and motivation. It also allows young people to experience life to its fullest, encouraging self-belief, drive and enthusiasm. This far outweighs them spending too much time indoors watching video games, potentially exposing them to games of a violent nature and which do not teach children the proper meaning of life.
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games swept Great Britain with sporting fever and shone a spotlight on the important role sport has to play. Team GB had 550 athletes competing in the Olympics and working with them were 450 accredited staff and 300 volunteers. This shows that sport not only creates sporting champions and brings people together around a common cause but truly harnesses a spirit and belief that through hard work and perseverance anything is possible. As public budgets for sports grow tighter it is critical that the UK looks to find new ways of working together across the public and private sectors to protect sports education for its children and secure the legacy for which the 2012 Olympics set the stage.
To find out more on what True Volunteer Foundation are doing to address this, please visit the Wimbledon Sporting Project page.
Burma, also known as Myanmar, has long been known for the beautiful Buddhist temples and for its political landscape. Being one of the least developed countries in Asia Burma has seen an adverse impact on its educational system. Many children in Burma did not have the option of attending school. On average, a Burmese adult only has 2.8 years’ worth of schooling behind them which is far below basic requirements in most countries across the globe. However, Burma is now beginning to see change at a swift pace. This has been aided by large investments from non-government organisations across the world, which have realized that a vision of a better Burma can only be guaranteed by giving every child access to education.
The international community is beginning to come together through forming key partnerships with local communities. By having greater access to schools Burmese children will have the resources to gain the skills they need to break out of the Cycle of Deprivation and achieve future success.
For the first time in many years there is now hope for Burmese children and a real opportunity for the international community to unite to support their future. But we must act now, and act together.
True Volunteer Foundation is proudly taking part in this new groundwork of creating new schools in Burma. If you would like to find out more on how True Volunteer Foundation is helping the Burmese children please click here to visit our campaign page.