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.