Teachers in Timor-Leste

I have written about teachers and students in Timor Leste before, so was pleased to find the article below, in relation to World Teachers’ Day.
When I started working in Timor Leste- the schools were just burnt out shells and there were no trained teachers.
Many new teachers were growing rice one day and recruited as teachers the next.

Teachers in Timor-Leste – the Bridge to the Future

World Bank   SUBMITTED BY JOAO DOS SANTOS ON THU, 2012-10-04 12:54

My gratitude and appreciation to all the teachers around the world for the wonderful work they do in contributing to education and development, in particular teachers who serve in Timor-Leste.

Your worth has been recognized internationally since 1994 – today is your day, World Teachers’ Day on October 5th.

Recently while visiting a few schools in Aileu, Ainaro and Liquica, I spoke to teachers, students and parents in villages about the profound difference teachers were making.

Fatima Cardoso, a 28 year old mother with seven children, lives in the high mountains of Aitutu village, Ainaro District about 84 kilometers from the capital Dili. Five of her children are now studying at school, She explained:

“Teachers are just like a bridge to help students pass to their future. I really appreciate the role of teachers. They help guide our children in the right direction. As parents we want something different for our children, we want our children to have a better education.”

“We are lucky because the school is very close school with very dedicated teachers working there, some have to spend hours on foot to reach the school to teach the students.”

Teachers like these are the backbone of education in Timor-Leste and the significant gains achieved during the last decade. Now 90 percent of primary aged children are enrolled in school and more children are staying in school, with three quarters completing all primary grades in 2010. More Timorese are able to read and write, with literacy rates among 15-24 year olds increasing by 70 percent between 2001 and 2007.

Teachers are playing a vital role to respond to the needs of children, the hope of thousands of parents and the dreams of government for a better development, as it is constituted in the National Strategic Development Plan of the Government of Timor-Leste. All of us count teachers as one of the key actors for a nation’s development.

Roberto de Araujo, the School Coordinator of Querema Primary School at Hatubuilico, Ainaro District, started teaching in 1994, during the Indonesian occupation.

“Teaching for me is about transferring all the knowledge we have to students. Helping them discover their ability guides them with moral knowledge and encourages them to understand the importance of education for their future, so the success of the students depends on the success of the teachers.”

Antonio Ximenes Paixeco, 17 years old, is a former student of Querema School, and is now studying at senior high school. I met him on his way home from school and spent a few minutes talking to him, asking him a few questions about his former teacher Roberto.

“I still recall the good things I got from him, he is very committed and very patient. I like the way he teaches, he really understood the subject before presenting it in the class. He will go over things until each of us understands.”

Although the teachers have made progress there remain challenges, in both the quality of education and the school infrastructure.

The World Bank has been supporting the education and training sector in Timor-Leste since 2000, with support from AusAID and other partners through financial as well as technical assistance. In recent years, the support has focused on expanding access to primary and secondary education through improving school facilities and learning and teaching materials, and strengthening the quality of learning through teacher training and curriculum development.

Earlier this year, over 600 teachers graduated with a degree in basic education from the National Institute for the Training of Teachers and Education Professionals, part of a broad strategy to both expand access and quality of basic education. “The training was really important, it has helped us understand that the learning process in the classroom has completely changed. Before, teachers were at the center and were 80 percent more active than the students. Now it has changed. Students have become central and are about 80 percent more active than a teacher. This has increased the students’ participation in the class and they are more active in the group discussion”, said Geraldo Ribeiro Soares, Director of Ulmera Primary School, in Liquica District.

Boaventura Maria Soares is a young teacher at Ulmera Primary School, of Liquica District. He started teaching in 2008 and graduated from University in 2010. As a young teacher, he is very appreciative of the training programme for the teachers provided under the Ministry of Education.

“The training is very important, as we now understand that the world is changing, there are new things that we need to know, such as teaching-learning methodologies. This will help us to use more up to date teaching techniques used in other countries, linking to more effective learning processes and impacting on quality of education across the country”.

Education is one of the most important pillars to reach your goals and dreams. World Teachers’ Day represents a significant token of the awareness, understanding and appreciation displayed for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development.

The State of the World’s Girls 2012: Learning for Life

We have just celebrated “International Day of the Girl” (see blog post and UNICEF podcast below) so the report on the State of the World’s girls is an important landmark:

The State of the World’s Girls 2012: Learning for Life 
Education Above All

The sixth report in Plan’s annual State of the World’s Girls series, ‘Learning for life’, takes a critical look at the state of girls’ education. The report argues that behind the success of global parity in primary education enrolment figures lies a crisis in the quality of learning.

Enrolment figures measure attendance on one day of the school year, and they are currently the only measure of success. They tell us nothing about real access to education or the quality of what is being taught, or learnt.

All over the world poverty and discrimination continue to have a detrimental effect on girls’ attendance in school. This is particularly true when they reach adolescence and, in many families, a daughter’s domestic and reproductive role takes precedence over her right to education.

Violence in schools, early marriage, pregnancy and housework continue to constitute significant barriers to girls’ education around the world.
The challenge now is to make sure that all girls, however poor, isolated or disadvantaged, are able to attend school on a regular basis and gain a good quality education that equips them for life.

The full report can be found here in English, Spanish, and French.

UNICEF Podcast #65 “Celebrating International Day of the Girl”
UNICEF11 October 2012 marked the first ever International Day of the Girl Child, a day established by the United Nations to highlight the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. This year’s theme is “Ending Child Marriage”, chosen because child marriage denies a girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk of violence and abuse and jeopardizes her health.

To discuss the role of education in ending child marriage and enabling girls to reach their full potential, UNICEF podcast moderator Femi Oke spoke with UNICEF’s Principal Adviser, Gender Rights and Civic Engagement, Dr. Anju Malhotra.

To listen, click here.

Thanks to INEE for reference to both of the above.

The power of WE in education – blog action day 2012

Why are teachers all over the world wasting their precious time?

They have been given an impossible task -they are teaching for the future with a curriculum and tools that are trapped in the past.

They find it difficult to change as they have been taught in the same way -when they themselves were in school and then been lectured at during college – with little experience of real active, challenging,reflective,  learner centred activities.

So what should be in the curriculum for the future?

When working with nomadic families in Chad I asked them what they needed for their children  to learn in school?

They replied -their children needed to learn how to look after their animals and to know their rights. Were they offered either in school – no!

For children to understand and thrive in whatever future they will inhabit (and we don’t know enough about this so how can we plan a future proofed curriculum?) they will need to know about their environment  and health.

Tools of learning of maths, science and language will develop as we use the content vehicle of environment and health.

WE all need to know and understand about our environment and health – this power of WE is about learning and working together to have flexible and critical minds so as to deal with whatever issues arise during the near future.

Both these areas of learning, environment and health have so often been relegated to an odd lesson on a Friday afternoon -never core subjects -yet they inform young people on how to look after and take responsibility  for themselves, their community and their planet.

More to add to this post during our Blog Action Day.

Columbus Day – is it a time to celebrate?

Although not common in the UK,Columbus Day is celebrated in many states in the US. But should it be a celebration or a wake?

Why has the propaganda been so pro-Columbus?

Let us explore….

Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937, though people have celebrated Columbus’ voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the four hundredth anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such as support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.

Catholic immigration in the mid-19th century induced discrimination from anti-immigrant activists. Like many other immigrant communities, Catholics developed organizations to fight discrimination and provide insurance for the struggling immigrants. One such organization, the Knights of Columbus, chose that name in part because it saw Christopher Columbus as a fitting symbol of Catholic immigrants’ right to citizenship: one of their own, a fellow Catholic, had discovered America.

Many Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, the first occasion being in New York City on October 12, 1866.Columbus Day was first popularized as a holiday in the United States through the lobbying of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian, in Denver. The first official, regular Columbus Day holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905 and made a statutory holiday in 1907.In April 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made October 12 a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day.

Opposition

Opposition to Columbus Day dates to at least the 19th century where activists had sought to eradicate Columbus Day celebrations because of its association with immigrants and the Knights of Columbus. They were afraid it was being used to expand Catholic influence.By far the more common opposition today, decrying Columbus’s and Europeans’ actions against the indigenous populations of the Americas, did not gain much traction until the latter half of the 20th century. This opposition has been spearheaded by indigenous groups[, though it has spread into the mainstream.

There are two main strands of this critique, which are interrelated. The first refers primarily to the indigenous population collapse and cruel treatment towards indigenous peoples during the European colonization of the American continents which followed Columbus’s discovery. Some, such as AIM, have argued that the responsibility of contemporary governments and their citizens for allegedly ongoing acts of genocide against Native Americans are masked by positive Columbus myths and celebrations. These critics argue that a particular understanding of the legacy of Columbus has been used to legitimize their actions, and it is this misuse of history that must be exposed. F. David Peat asserts that many cultural myths of North America exclude or diminish the culture and myths of Native Americans. These cultural myths include ideas expressed by Michael Berliner of the Ayn Rand Institute claiming that Western civilization brought “reason, science, self-reliance, individualism, ambition, and productive achievement” to a people who were based in “primitivism, mysticism, and collectivism”, and to a land that was “sparsely inhabited, unused, and underdeveloped.”[39] American anthropologist Jack Weatherford says that on Columbus Day Americans celebrate the greatest waves of genocide of the Indians known in history.[40] American Indian Movement of Colorado leader and activist Ward Churchill takes this argument further, contending that the mythologizing and celebration of the European settlement of the Americas in Columbus Day make it easier for people today to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions, or the actions of their governments regarding indigenous populations. He wrote in his book Bringing the Law Back Home:

Very high on the list of those expressions of non-indigenous sensibility [that] contribute to the perpetuation of genocidal policies against Indians are the annual Columbus Day celebration, events in which it is baldly asserted that the process, events, and circumstances described above are, at best, either acceptable or unimportant. More often, the sentiments expressed by the participants are, quite frankly, that the fate of Native America embodied in Columbus and the Columbian legacy is a matter to be openly and enthusiastically applauded as an unrivaled “boon to all mankind”. Undeniably, the situation of American Indians will not — in factcannot — change for the better so long as such attitudes are deemed socially acceptable by the mainstream populace. Hence, such celebrations as Columbus Day must be stopped.

A second strain of the criticism of Columbus Day focuses on the character of Columbus himself. In time for the observation of Columbus Day in 2004, the final volume of a compendium of Columbus-era documents was published by the University of California, Los Angeles’s Medieval and Renaissance Center. Geoffrey Symcox, the general editor of the project, asserted: “While giving the brilliant mariner his due, the collection portrays Columbus as an unrelenting social climber and self-promoter who stopped at nothing— not even exploitation, slavery, or twisting Biblical scripture— to advance his ambitions… Many of the unflattering documents have been known for the last century or more, but nobody paid much attention to them until recently… The fact that Columbus brought slavery, enormous exploitation or devastating diseases to the Americas used to be seen as a minor detail – if it was recognized at all – in light of his role as the great bringer of white man’s civilization to the benighted idolatrous American continent. But to historians today this information is very important. It changes our whole view of the enterprise.”

In the summer of 1990, 350 representatives from Indian groups from all over the hemisphere, met in Quito, Ecuador, at the first Intercontinental Gathering of Indigenous People in the Americas, to mobilize against the quincentennial celebration of Columbus Day. The following summer, in Davis, California, more than a hundred Native Americans gathered for a follow-up meeting to the Quito conference. They declared October 12, 1992, “International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People.” The largest ecumenical body in the United States, the National Council of Churches, called on Christians to refrain from celebrating the Columbus quincentennial, saying, “What represented newness of freedom, hope, and opportunity for some was the occasion for oppression, degradation and genocide for others.

(ref:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbus_Day)

From Cultural Survival:

Some things You Can Do to Commemorate Indigenous Peoples on Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus arrived as an immigrant to “the New World.” He did not “discover” America. Today, let’s remember and celebrate the People who were here first!          

1.  Learn about the American Precolonial Roots of Democracy. American democracy was founded on the principles of The Great Law of Peace founded by The Haudenosaunne People (Iroquois) in the Northeast. Read more.

2.  Watch 1492 and hear Ward Churchill set the record straight about Columbus and the Doctrine of Discovery.

 

3.   Learn about Native America’s endangered languages and what is being done to revitalize them. Send an E-postcard in Euchee! Visit ourmothertounges.org
Engage your friends and family and raise awareness about endangered languages by sending an e-postcard with a Native language audio greeting.

I have been a great fan of Rethinking schools for a few decades and their publication ‘Rethinking Columbus‘ is a great resource for schools.
Summary
Why rethink Christopher Columbus? Because the Columbus myth is a foundation of children’s beliefs about society. Columbus is often a child’s first lesson about encounters between different cultures and races. The murky legend of a brave adventurer tells children whose version of history to accept, and whose to ignore. It says nothing about the brutality of the European invasion of North America.We need to listen to a wider range of voices. We need to hear from those whose lands and rights were taken away by those who “discovered” them. Their stories, too often suppressed, tell of 500 years of courageous struggle, and the lasting wisdom of native peoples. Understanding what really happened to them in 1492 is key to understanding why people suffer the same injustices today.More than 80 essays, poems, interviews, historical vignettes, and lesson plans reevaluate the myth of Columbus and issues of indigenous rights. Rethinking Columbus is packed with useful teaching ideas for kindergarten through college.

In this New Edition:

  • Updated resource listings
  • Classroom materials
  • Handouts and lesson plans
  • Poems
  • Web site listings
  • And much more!

First published in 1991, Rethinking Columbus has changed the way schools teach about the “discovery of America.” This greatly expanded edition has more than 100 pages of new material, including handouts to conduct a classroom “Trial of Columbus” and other activities.

Praise:

“The original edition made educational history by introducing a startling new view of Columbus … In the revised edition we get even richer material, a marvelous compendium of history, literature, original sources, commentary … an exciting treasure for teachers, students, and the general public.”

— Howard Zinn, author A People’s History of the United States

International day of the Girl Child – 11th October 2012

International day of the Girl Child  – 11th October 2012

In Tanzania there are villages where teachers are condemned by parents if they attempt to support girls to pass the end of primary exam. Fathers who need their daughters to marry early so that they could gain wealth from dowry cattle will ensure that their daughters do not continue to secondary school. This is just one small story in the encyclopaedia of stories of discrimination and injustice for girls.

International day of the Girl Child  -11th October 2012

Theme for 2012: Ending Child marriage

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.

For its first observance, this year’s Day will focus on child marriage, which is a fundamental human rights violation and impacts all aspects of a girl’s life. Child marriage denies a girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk to be a victim of violence and abuse, jeopardizes her health and therefore constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and the development of healthy communities.

Globally, around one in three young women aged 20-24 years were first married before they reached age 18. One third of them entered into marriage before they turned 15. Child marriage results in early and unwanted pregnancies, posing life-threatening risks for girls. In developing countries, 90 per cent of births to adolescents aged 15-19 are to married girls, and pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls in this age group.

Girls with low levels of schooling are more likely to be married early, and child marriage has been shown to virtually end a girl’s education. Conversely, girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to marry as children, making education one of the best strategies for protecting girls and combating child marriage.

Preventing child marriage will protect girls’ rights and help reduce their risks of violence, early pregnancy, HIV infection, and maternal death and disability, including obstetric fistula. When girls are able to stay in school and avoid being married early, they can build a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families and participate in the progress of their nations.

Activities and events to mark the Day are organized by UNFPAUNICEFUN Women.

Governments in partnership with civil society actors and the international community are called upon to take urgent action to end the harmful practice of child marriage and to:

  • Enact and enforce appropriate legislation to increase the minimum age of marriage for girls to 18 and raise public awareness about child marriage as a violation of girls’ human rights.
  • Improve access to good quality primary and secondary education, ensuring that gender gaps in schooling are eliminated.
  • Mobilize girls, boys, parents, leaders, and champions to change harmful social norms, promote girls’ rights and create opportunities for them.
  • Support girls who are already married by providing them with options for schooling, sexual and reproductive health services, livelihoods skills, opportunity, and recourse from violence in the home.
  • Address the root causes underlying child marriage, including gender discrimination, low value of girls, poverty, or religious and cultural justifications.
Because I am a Girl Campaign
Plan InternationalWe are working with girls, communities, traditional leaders, governments, global institutions and the private sector to address the barriers that prevent girls from completing their education.We are calling for:

  • girls’ education to be prioritised by world leaders
  • girls’ completion of a quality secondary education to be a major focus of international action
  • funding for girls education to be increased
  • an end to child marriage
  • an end to gender-based violence in and around schools
  • girls and boys to participate in decision making and inspire those with power to take action

Reaching millions of girls

Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign aims to reach 4 million girls directly – improving their lives with access to school, skills, livelihoods and protection. We will also achieve these improvements through better family and community support and access to services for girls. In addition, we aim to reach 40 million girls and boys indirectly in terms of positive improvements through our gender programmes. We also aim to reach 400 million girls through policy change. This means helping to bring about quantifiable improvements in policy makers, service providers and government support for gender equality and girls’ rights.

For more information click here.

Science and Human Rights…a starter

Human Rights must encompass science, of course, if only to safeguard humans and their rights in light of scientific applications such as the development and  use of nuclear weapons and genetic modification.

Science and Human Rights: From SciDevNet

Promoting a human rights approach to S&T advances will reinforce moves towards inclusive development. But implementation challenges remain.

There was a time when debates on the links between science and human rights focused on the plight of individual scientists, and in particular on their rights — both as humans and as intellectuals — to the freedom of expression.

In the 1970s and 1980s, for example, dissident scientists such as the Russian physicist Andrei Sakharov became focal points for protests by the human rights movement in the West, keen to throw a spotlight on the harshness with which the government of the Soviet Union treated its critics.

Since then, the terrain of the science and human rights debate has expanded considerably. One direction has been the use of technology to provide evidence of human rights abuses — for example, the use by Amnesty International of sophisticated satellite imagery to document unlawful executions and the destruction of villages in conflicts in the Middle East and Sudan.

An equally significant trend, however, has been the growing interest in promoting the idea that enjoying the fruits of scientific knowledge is a basic human right, and in how this right can be implemented in the context of social and economic development.

Eyes on human rights

This week, we publish a series of articles highlighting emerging thinking about the potential impact of, and challenges faced by a human rights-based approach to the role of science in development.

In an overview article, S. Romi Mukherjee, senior lecturer at the Paris Institute of Political Studies and the University of Chicago Center in Paris, who was the editorial consultant on the project, outlines http://www.scidev.net/en/science-and-innovation-policy/linking-human-rights-science-and-development/editorials/science-and-human-rights-a-valuable-perspective.html a human rights-based approach intersects with debates over science and technology (S&T) and development.

In a complementary feature article, Jan Piotrowski talks to some of those who are seeking to implement this rights-based approach, particularly within UN agencies such as UNESCO and the Food and Agricultural Organization, as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

More from the same article….

Because I am a girl – International day of the Girl Child – 11th October 2012

In Tanzania there are villages where teachers are condemned by parents if they attempt to support girls to pass the end of primary exam. Fathers who need their daughters to marry early so that they could gain wealth from dowry cattle will ensure that their daughters do not continue to secondary school. This is just one small story in the encyclopaedia of stories of discrimination and injustice for girls.

 

 

International day of the Girl Child  -11th October 2012

Theme for 2012: Ending Child marriage

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.

For its first observance, this year’s Day will focus on child marriage, which is a fundamental human rights violation and impacts all aspects of a girl’s life. Child marriage denies a girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk to be a victim of violence and abuse, jeopardizes her health and therefore constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and the development of healthy communities.

Globally, around one in three young women aged 20-24 years were first married before they reached age 18. One third of them entered into marriage before they turned 15. Child marriage results in early and unwanted pregnancies, posing life-threatening risks for girls. In developing countries, 90 per cent of births to adolescents aged 15-19 are to married girls, and pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls in this age group.

Girls with low levels of schooling are more likely to be married early, and child marriage has been shown to virtually end a girl’s education. Conversely, girls with secondary schooling are up to six times less likely to marry as children, making education one of the best strategies for protecting girls and combating child marriage.

Preventing child marriage will protect girls’ rights and help reduce their risks of violence, early pregnancy, HIV infection, and maternal death and disability, including obstetric fistula. When girls are able to stay in school and avoid being married early, they can build a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families and participate in the progress of their nations.

Activities and events to mark the Day are organized by UNFPAUNICEFUN Women.

Governments in partnership with civil society actors and the international community are called upon to take urgent action to end the harmful practice of child marriage and to:

  • Enact and enforce appropriate legislation to increase the minimum age of marriage for girls to 18 and raise public awareness about child marriage as a violation of girls’ human rights.
  • Improve access to good quality primary and secondary education, ensuring that gender gaps in schooling are eliminated.
  • Mobilize girls, boys, parents, leaders, and champions to change harmful social norms, promote girls’ rights and create opportunities for them.
  • Support girls who are already married by providing them with options for schooling, sexual and reproductive health services, livelihoods skills, opportunity, and recourse from violence in the home.
  • Address the root causes underlying child marriage, including gender discrimination, low value of girls, poverty, or religious and cultural justifications.
Because I am a Girl Campaign
Plan InternationalWe are working with girls, communities, traditional leaders, governments, global institutions and the private sector to address the barriers that prevent girls from completing their education.We are calling for:

  • girls’ education to be prioritised by world leaders
  • girls’ completion of a quality secondary education to be a major focus of international action
  • funding for girls education to be increased
  • an end to child marriage
  • an end to gender-based violence in and around schools
  • girls and boys to participate in decision making and inspire those with power to take action

Reaching millions of girls

Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign aims to reach 4 million girls directly – improving their lives with access to school, skills, livelihoods and protection. We will also achieve these improvements through better family and community support and access to services for girls. In addition, we aim to reach 40 million girls and boys indirectly in terms of positive improvements through our gender programmes. We also aim to reach 400 million girls through policy change. This means helping to bring about quantifiable improvements in policy makers, service providers and government support for gender equality and girls’ rights.

For more information click here.