Global Education: A Conversation with Drew Edwards

We sat down with Executive Director of Operations Drew Edwards to learn more about his participation in the 2017-2018 Learners' Voice Program.

Can you talk a little bit about the Learners’ Voice Program. What are the objectives? What will the cohort be focused on for the upcoming year?

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) is an initiative of the Qatar Foundation. WISE is hosting a fellowship called the Learners’ Voice Program. The program seeks to find a cohort of 25 fellows, between the ages of 21-30, to lend a perspective on global education issues. This year the cohort is made up of 25 fellows from 22 countries and will be focused on the Global Forced Migration Crisis and how to provide an effective education within it. The program output is action oriented - the result of it are initiatives that will be presented and funded at the WISE 2018 Summit in this area.

 

What are you looking to gain from your experience in the cohort? How do you feel this opportunity will help you to grow, both personally and professionally?

There is a formal curriculum on forced migration and education, but I am most interested in the residential experiences and community of the fellowship. The program has 3 residential stays: one in Qatar for the WISE Summit, and two others in Greece and Spain researching and sharing with displaced communities. Seeing displacement in a context other than Uganda will be enlightening for me. Equally, sharing and exploring this topic with practitioners from other countries, especially the Global South, will offer the most insightful learning. Although I have travelled a lot and lived in East Africa, it is a chance to be exposed to much more of the world. It’s a chance to think more expansively, to build a professional community around a passionate and important issue, and learn from one another and the excellent mentors of the program.

 

How does this fellowship connect to your work with PED? In what ways might this opportunity lend itself to the organization?

The refugee crisis in Uganda is the fastest growing in the world. As the conflict and political tensions in the region worsen, Pangea Educational Development (PED) is positioned to play an important role for children and their families that need it most.

 

What is something you want others to know about working with displaced persons, especially in relation to education?

Displaced persons are victims of circumstance. They are living just like any of us and have been forcibly uprooted from conflict, economic strife, and increasingly, environmental disasters. Education is important everywhere, but research has shown it plays a particularly important role for displaced families - providing essential social-emotional stability and empowerment within tragic circumstances.

 


We look forward to sharing more updates on Drew's experiences as a fellow throughout the upcoming year.


Executive Director of Operations Selected for Fellowship

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We are proud to share that our Executive Director of Operations, Drew Edwards, will be joining the Learners' Voice Program for 2017-2018. The cohort, which consists of 25 fellows from 22 countries throughout the world, will focus on theoretical and practical components of education in relation to the forced migration and displacement crisis.

Learn more about the World Innovation Summit for Education - WISE Initiative and stay tuned as we sit down with Drew to learn more about his goals for the upcoming year.

 

Twesomese Community Center: Increasing Access to STEM

This past week, PED welcomed 15 female students to the Twesomese Community Center for our first launch of a STEM camp. We're excited to share more about this pilot initiative to improve learning outcomes for female students in the sciences.

 

Why STEM?

Working with teachers and our staff, we identified that female students were typically receiving lower test scores within the STEM subjects than their male peers, particularly in physics and chemistry. With the help of our Program Director, Nathan Okiror, our Director of International Operations, Drew Edwards, and PED volunteer Maddie Beattie, we created a hands-on, immersive learning opportunity for female students to not only practice core concepts being assessed on their exams, but to learn more about careers in the STEM fields and feel empowered to explore their options in a safe and comfortable learning environment. Thanks to Jude Tumusiime, a physics teacher from Tooro High School, and Agnes Mirembe, an Examiner of Chemisty with the Uganda National Examinations Board, students have been able to receive more individualized attention and instruction. During the last two days of the camp, students will have an opportunity to meet current female STEM professionals and learn the story of how they emerged in their fields, providing them access to strong female role models and mentors. 

What are the desired outcomes?

Through this week and a half long pilot, PED will be collecting data on student performance and mastery of certain skills being assessed on the national exam. We are planning to use this information to track participants' performance throughout the next few months and determine if participation in the camp has led to improved performance in the STEM subjects. This data will help PED determine if offering an after-school program would be impactful for female students in the community. 

We cannot wait to share more about the camp with you - stay tuned for stories from female students participating and what they feel are the most valuable lessons they have learned.

 

What Are You Willing To Do for Education:  Bryan Chung

Bryan Chung is one awesome dude.  Over the past year, Bryan has run thirty 5K races to raise funds for PED partner schools in Uganda.  We had a chance to interview Bryan towards the end of his journey.

1. What inspired you to do this campaign and fundraise for PED?

With my thirtieth birthday looming in the not too distant future, I felt the need to accomplish something that was much bigger than myself. The idea of partying, going out to Vegas, or celebrating my thirty-year milestone in a traditional sense just wasn’t appealing to me. Around spring of 2016, I started to kick around ideas of what I could do to commemorate my birthday by giving back to the world around me. Being a good global citizen as well as a supporter of my local community is what inspired me to actualize the #Chung30for30 campaign. The name of my campaign is, obviously, taken from ESPN, but it just worked out so well, that I could not NOT use it (please don't sue me)!

Once I had my goal in mind, it was easy for me to choose whom to help. When Andrew Bauer began developing Pangea Educational Development many years ago, I was incredibly interested in the program’s success. Being a teacher, I believe championing for the right to an education. PED’s mission gels so well with my worldview that I felt incredibly inspired and motivated to help. PED's "I Am Willing" campaign rang strongly for me. I asked myself, "What am I willing to do?" and “What will have the greatest impact for PED and my community?”

The notion of completing 5K races perfectly fit what I wanted to accomplish. Now, I've never even run a mile without stopping for a break; however, there was nothing physically stopping me from being able to complete these races if I put the time in to train. So, I ditched the excuses and decided that I was going to run thirty 5K races to celebrate my birthday. Most 5K races also help raise funds or awareness of local/national charities. So, it's like a triple whammy of motivation: I get healthier, assist numerous charities and beneficiaries, all while championing my belief that everyone has a right to an education through supporting PED.

2. How did you get involved with our mission?

When PED was just starting out, I could see that it was Andrew's passion, so naturally, I always tried to help him and PED. Whether it was personally giving a financial donation, or collecting shoes for one of their campaigns, I did what I could. For this particular campaign, I reached out to Andrew to see if they had a lead person in charge of their fundraising campaign to talk to about making #Chung30for30 happen. Andrew got back to me right away and we talked about creating a page through their classy.org page. Having never started my own fundraising campaign, Andrew’s knowledge and willingness to help was key to my success.

3. How can people support you?

Support my fundraising campaign! A donation can be made on my page at classy.org/Chung30for30forPED, but there are so many other ways people can help me.

Another way to help is to share my campaign with others. I update my blog whenever I can so you can track my progress and see how I’m doing. I currently have 54 "likes," and assuming all 16 donors were among them, if the remaining 38 people donated $50, the $3000 goal would be met. However, if they share it and if everyone could get at least one person to donate to them, that would be just an average of $25 per person. Giving $25 is a lot easier than $50. The more people that can contribute to my campaign, the more people it would benefit.

4. Do you have any advice for someone wanting to do a fundraiser of their own?

The best advice I can give is to stay engaged. You are the one responsible for the work that’s put into your campaign and the overall success. There are so many people who would love to support you, but you have to engage them and assure them that their hard earned money is truly going to be put to good use. Once you start falling off the wagon on your fundraiser, it's hard to get back up, so you have to stay on top of it. Find every way possible to stay motivated and consistent, and the success will come.


Inspired by Bryan’s story and message.  Start your own campaign today!

PED + GoAbroad Foundation Partner to Complete St. James Library

St. James Primary School was founded with a single mission: provide a quality and affordable education for students in the Wakiso community. Each day, students walk down the hill of St. James with their notepad and pencil in hand, prepared for the challenge of another day’s learning. As teachers greet students and begin lessons and activities, incorporating songs and games to engage students, there is something noticeably missing: books.

PED is excited to partner with the GoAbroad Foundation to complete the construction of the library at St. James Primary and increase access to books for students, teachers, and community members.

The library will help St. James to foster a love for reading while improving literacy skills and learning outcomes for students, inviting parents and community members to be a part of the school culture. It will also allow the school to acquire national registration, reducing testing fees for students and increasing the affordability of their education.

The transformation of St. James is nothing short of incredible. Since 2011, the school has grown from a single structure to a multi-block classroom facility with over double the amount of students. With the successful introduction of two income-generating projects, the school now has enough income to sustain its operations entirely on its own. That transformation can continue with your generous support and your belief in the power of education.

 

Donate to the St. James Library Project. Invest in Education.

Introducing the Twesomese Community Center

Twesomese means let's learn together in Luganda, the local language in the Wakiso District outside of Kampala, Uganda. Teachers, students, parents, and community members are coming together to learn now that PED has officially launched the community center. Our goal for the center is simple: to create a more holistic approach to educating students by addressing factors outside of the classroom. The Twesomese Community Center will provide educational opportunities to the community in order to support the long-term sustainability of the schools that reside within it and to create a strong investment in education community-wide.

TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT'S HAPPENING AT THE CENTER

At the forefront of every classroom is a teacher. With ongoing professional development sessions for teachers from the community and PED partner schools, our goal is to empower teachers to become better practitioners on student-centered learning techniques, literacy skills, and creating a love of learning. The community center is an opportunity for collaboration and critical conversations around resources and student performance to help teachers continue to serve students best.

For students, the community center provides a rich environment filled with books and games focused on improving a reading culture. Program challenges will be held for students to create services and products to improve the livelihood of their communities and then pitch to others. Soon, STEM programming will begin for girls in the community.

Parents have been invited to join their students at the community center to learn more about how to support their education. Reading nights that encourage parents to access books and read with students, as well as adult literacy programs focused on improving skills of parents, helps entire families learn together.

The community center is intended to bring the entire community together to invest in education for their students. Through monthly PED talks, community members are invited to share their innovative ideas on education, health, farming, and more, in an effort to find solutions to challenges faced by the community. In addition, the center will host an event to engage in oral storytelling in an effort to share and preserve local culture and history. In the upcoming weeks, community members will be invited to participate in a Computer Training Program.

THANK YOU FOR MAKING IT POSSIBLE.

Awach Piggery: Education Beyond the Classroom

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

 

So the saying goes. But what happens when you give a female student in Uganda a piglet and teach her the entrepreneurial skills to grow her own small business? Empowerment.

PED recently launched a piggery project at Awach Secondary School with two goals in mind: developing an additional income for the school while also creating a sustainable scholarship program for vulnerable female students affected by HIV/AIDS.

Here’s how it works:

  1. The school currently has 8 female pigs and 2 male pigs

  2. After one year, the female pigs will give birth to piglets: up to 100 in total!

  3. Some pigs and piglets will be sold in the local market at profit directly benefiting the school and furthering its strategic development plan; some piglets will be provided to five select girls attending the school

  4. These students will be trained on piggery management, entrepreneurship, and business management skills in order to care for their piglet and nurse it

  5. When these pigs are of age, the student will bring it back to the school to be fertilized, resulting in new piglets being born

  6. The student will continue to care for these new piglets and be able to raise them, sell them, and continue to breed them; the student will also provide one of these piglets to another female student at the school and mentor her in taking care of the piglet to begin her own

  7. The money earned by these female students will provide them a scholarship to ensure continued attendance at school while also providing them the hands-on skills they need to succeed in their communities and the leadership experience to thrive at Awach

Want to see projects like this grow? By donating just $10 a month, we can ensure that more vulnerable girls are completing school and being trained with the skills they need to grow their business and their leadership. Fund sustainable education today.

Connecting Uganda to India

We received a note from co-founder and Director of International Operations Drew Edwards about the usage of the Hello Hubs built in conjunction with our partner Projects for All. They set a Skype call with Sugata Mitra, the inspiration for the digital education based on his ideas of "building a school in the cloud".

Today Sugata Mitra, well known for his TED Talk "Build a School in the Cloud," "Skyped" in with the community at St. James Primary School via their Hello Hub. The experience was nothing short of transformational. A group of around 20 community members, teachers, and children gathered under the auspices of learning about Skype. We sat down to talk about what the program did and how it could connect to have real conversations with people anywhere else on the planet. We touched based on the presuppositions that are absent in a Skype conversation, especially with someone you are meeting for the first time. We talked about how to share with others in both asking questions and sharing our own experiences. 

As we logged onto the call we walked through the program step by step, to demystify the program a bit. We clicked on Sugata's username and explained how to send a message to ask if he was ready to speak with us. When he responded the whispers began building around the group. You could feel the giddy anticipation of what could happen next. His call rung through, the whispers built to a nervous laugh followed by silence. "Hello, Sugata, are you there?" we asked. "Yes I am here, hello" he answered. Nervous chatter erupted again, but just as quickly as it blurted out it left. 

 

I introduced Sugata to the community at St. James, explaining their first time experience on such a platform. "I have been telling them about yourself and we have told you a bit about them" I said, "but, they have decided that they would like to meet you themselves" Sugata followed with encouraging agreement and asked where we were located. Then that nervous silence returned. Who was going to speak, everyone thought. You could see it in everyone's eyes. Then a brave teacher described where St. James is at in the world. We walked through the physical description until one student blurted out, "Where are you?!" followed by scattered laughter. Sugata responded with a description of the harsh realities of winter and his northerly location from Uganda. The look on everyone's face was a mixture of fear and disgust - they wanted no part in winter. 

Education in Uganda: A Look Inside the Mathematics Classroom

Take a closer look at the way teachers and students come together with one goal in mind: learning and growing together. Gain a deeper understanding of the individuals who, like PED, believe that education can transform their community.

 

With a smile on his face, he approaches the chalkboard. About 90 students await what comes next from Stephen, their mathematics teacher. You can see in their eyes that Stephen has earned not only their attention, but their respect. He begins drawing three shapes on the board: a rectangle, a square, and a circle. He places a title over them: Shading Fractions.

Today’s mathematics lesson has begun for the S1 students of Awach Secondary School.

Students are quick to copy down the shapes they see into their notebooks, glancing at their peers’ notes around them to be sure they got all of the information from the previous day’s lesson correct, words like numerator and denominator with corresponding definitions.

“Who will approach the board and assist?” Stephen asks, looking for a student to demonstrate their knowledge to their peers. He directs one to shade 3/4 of each shape. As the student works on the board, Stephen walks around to monitor the rest of the class. Some are still chatting away quietly, to which he responds, “Let the pen do the talking.”

The students move into the next topic: Addition and Subtraction of Fractions. Instead of distributing a worksheet to each student to work on, Stephen works with the resources he has - he writes the instructions on the board and provides three problems to solve:

  1. 1/a + 1/b
  2. 1/2 + 1/4
  3. 1/3 + 3/4

He works together with the students on the first problem, posing questions to assist them in arriving to the correct answer. “Now, you must work on your own,” he instructs, wanting to see how students arrive at the answers on their own.

 

After a few minutes, Stephen asks for a volunteer to approach the board. Within seconds, the hands of 20 or more students fly into the air hoping to be selected, but only one is chosen: James. All eyes follow him as he approaches the board with a piece of chalk and begins to solve the problem. When finished, he breathes a sigh of relief that he can return to his seat in the back of the room. The bell rings and the students are dismissed for today.

Stephen’s mathematics class pushes students to consider math as an everyday practical skill. He works tirelessly to help students understand why math is important to their success in society when it comes to business, finance, homeownership, and farming.

Learn more about Awach Secondary School and help us keep more students in well-equipped classrooms with excellent educators.

 

I Want to Invest in Education

Flossmoor Station + PED = The Best November EVER

 

DRINK LOCAL, THINK GLOBAL.

Janna and Michelle are two women passionate about the power of education in the lives of children. As mothers whose children attend the elementary school in Flossmoor, they met co-founder Andrew Bauer at the beginning of the school year when he introduced himself as their teacher. "His humility, passion, and dedication to PED is an inspiration. We feel privileged to have met Andy through our kids," says Janna, who has known Andy since 2012.

What's the best way they decided to give back? Team up with their favorite local brewery, Flossmoor Station, who has always been a generous contributor to the community, and dedicate an entire month to raising awareness for PED and our mission! Need we say more?

Here's the details:

November 3: Flossmoor Station will kick off the month with a tapping party to celebrate the creation of a PED-inspired beer, featuring Ugandan coffee notes (thanks to Big Shoulders Coffee!) and banana flavors. 15% of sales during the entire month of the brew will go directly to PED!

When: 6-9pm

Where: Flossmoor Station, 1035 Sterling Ave Flossmoor, IL 60422

 

November 11: Flossmoor Station will host an all day fundraiser with co-founder and former District 161 teacher Andrew Bauer speaking in the evening. 10% of all sales during the day will be donated directly to PED projects and additional activities and donation opportunities will be available!

When: ALL DAY LONG!

Where: Flossmoor Station, 1035 Sterling Ave Flossmoor, IL 60422