Convention on the Rights of the Child -a guide to non-discrimination.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is a beautiful piece of legislation…however, when in the field you understand how difficult it is to realise the goals of the CRC  in practical terms. Many laws and constitutions have to be re-written or amended to allow for children to have basic rights.

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Teachers and other educators should have the CRC as the basis on which to build relationships with their students. However, at present, it would be hard to find overt recognition of the CRC in any teacher training curriculum in the world.

The CRIN has been working hard not only to document abuses of the CRC but also to find ways to interpret the CRC in terms of practical use in the variety of contexts in which it should be used. First, a description of the CRC for those who are not cognizant of the Convention and secondly specific reference to a new guide to  non-discrimination. Download in pdf

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, often referred to as CRC or UNCRC, is an international convention setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children. Nations that ratify this international convention are bound to it by international law. Compliance is monitored by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child which is composed of members from countries around the world. Once a year, the Committee submits a report to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which also hears a statement from the CRC Chair, and the Assembly adopts a Resolution on the Rights of the Child.

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Governments of countries that have ratified the Convention are required to report to, and appear before, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child periodically to be examined on their progress with regards to the advancement of the implementation of the Convention and the status of child rights in their country. Their reports and the committee’s written views and concerns are available on the committee’s website.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention and opened it for signature on 20 November 1989 (the 30th anniversary of its Declaration of the Rights of the Child).[5] It came into force on 2 September 1990, after it was ratified by the required number of nations. As of December 2008, 193 countries have ratified it,[1] including every member of the United Nations except the United States and Somalia.[4][6]

Two optional protocols were adopted on 25 May 2000. The first restricts the involvement of children in military conflicts, and the second prohibits the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Both protocols have been ratified by more than 120 states.[7][8]

The Convention generally defines a child as any human being under the age of 18, unless an earlier age of majority is recognized by a country’s law.(ref wikipedia)

Introduction to discrimination

Children’s rights are violated or left unfulfilled in ways in which those of adults are not. This is a result of systemic discrimination – direct or indirect – against children.

Children face discrimination in most societies in comparison to adults because they have less power. This is a result of children’s dependence on adults and adults’ reluctance to give them more decision-making power as they develop the ability to exercise it themselves.

Besides experiencing discrimination as a group (or ‘age-based discrimination’), children face discrimination on other grounds such as their gender, disability, or sexual orientation, and sometimes because of a combination of reasons. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has so far identified 53 grounds of discrimination against children based either on their identity or the identity of their parents.

All forms of discrimination against children are exacerbated by virtue of their age and vulnerability which mean they have fewer opportunities for challenging discrimination because, for example, they do not have access to courts and complaints mechanisms on an equal basis with adults.

This document (Download in pdf ) aims to highlight the links between discrimination and the lack of fulfilment of children’s rights. It shows how article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – the right to non-discrimination – could be applied to every right as set out in the Convention. Each article includes examples both of discrimination against children as a group and against particular children.

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Free Professional and Academic Networking Site in Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Human Rights, International Development, Gender, and Civil Society Development

This is an invitation to join the Peace and Collaborative Development Network (http://internationalpeaceandconflict.org), an online initiative to bring together professionals, academics and students involved in Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, International Development, Democratization, Social Entrepreneurship and related fields.

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The network fosters interaction between individuals and organizations around the world and currently has over 9600 members. The site is a terrific networking tool where you can find local and international partners and practitioners, share resources, read guides to careers, scholarships, internships, funding, and IT resources in the field, and exchange best practices. Discussion topics and personal blogs can be posted. The site also has a video section where members can access and view videos related to the field.

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Now that the conflict in Liberia is over, it is worth seeing what has been done to improve the situation for young people and what still needs to be done. Education and training are key to the future peace of the country.

LIBERIA: Dreams Deferred – Educational and skills building needs and opportunities for youth [publication]

As part of a global, multi-year research and advocacy project focused on strengthening educational and job training programmes for displaced, conflict-affected young people, the Women’s Refugee Commission undertook a field mission to the Republic of Liberia to look at young people’s education and skills-building needs and opportunities. With the demobilisation, disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration process, which was completed in July 2009, now an opportune time to take stock of the youth employment training that has been ongoing since the end of Liberia’s 14-year civil war in 2003—and to find better ways forward.

While connecting youth to wage employment is challenging given the weak job market in Liberia, the Women’s Refugee Commission, through interviews with national and international organisations, local businesses and young people, identified a number of sectors with potential high labour demand for young people. Specific fields are listed in this report, with special attention to the needs of young people in rural areas where wage jobs in traditional trades are nearly non-existent.

The assessment found that the most successful training programs are those that offer a holistic package of services with literacy/numeracy and life skills in addition to market-driven livelihoods skills training. The best programmes also ensure close linkages between services and pay special attention to graduates’ progress over an extended period after completion of training. The assessment also identified lessons learned and offers recommendations to strengthen future projects and programmes.

For more information, contact:
Women’s Refugee Commission
122 East 42nd Street, 12th Floor, New York NY 10168 – 1289
Tel: + 1 212 551 3140
Email: jennyr@womenscommission.org
Website: www.womenscommission.org

Further information

Understanding 350 -Climate change – what can we do?

Blog Action Day.Understanding 350 -Climate change – what  can we do?


UNDERSTANDING 350

As educators, trainers and facilitators we have an obligation to provide young people with the skills  not only to survive well in the world but to have the choice to make  an active contribution to reduce the heavy impact we are making on the health of the planet.

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Awareness is not enough -so teaching young people the ‘facts’ may not be enough, they also need to develop the skills of :

  1. self awareness leading to personal action, initially on behalf of self
  2. confidence in expressing own views
  3. being assertive without being aggressive
  4. assessing media reporting – distinguishing fact from bias
  5. problem solving
  6. empathy and understanding a range of perspectives on the same issue
  7. taking action on behalf of others

Of course, this does not happen in one classroom but approaches to learning have to be community wide so that adults affirm and support young people’s actions.

There is plenty of information around but just to reiterate :

About 350…

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

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Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

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and a little bit more about global warming:

Top Ten Things You Need to Know about Global Warming

There are a number of widely held misconceptions about climate change, and unfortunately, these are reflected in some of the educational materials available on the web. It is therefore crucial for teachers to educate themselves and their students with accurate information and be careful not to reinforce common but incorrect notions.

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#1 Global warming is caused primarily by carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and gas.

Certain gases that trap heat are building up in Earth’s atmosphere. The primary culprit is carbon dioxide, released from burning coal, oil and natural gas in power plants, cars, factories, etc. (and to a lesser extent when forests are cleared). The second is methane, released from rice paddies, both ends of cows, rotting garbage in landfills, mining operations, and gas pipelines. Third are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and similar chemicals, which are also implicated in the separate problem of ozone depletion (see #5 below). Nitrous oxide (from fertilizers and other chemicals) is fourth.

#2 Earth’s average temperature has risen about 1 degree F in the past 100 years and is projected to rise another 3 to 10 degrees F in the next 100 years.
While Earth’s climate has changed naturally throughout time, the current rate of change due to human activity is unprecedented during at least the last 10,000 years. The projected range of temperature rise is wide because it includes a variety of possible future conditions, such as whether or not we control greenhouse gas emissions and different ways the climate system might respond. Temperatures over the US are expected to rise more than over the globe as a whole because land areas closer to the poles are projected to warm faster than those nearer the equator.

#3 There is scientific consensus that global warming is real, is caused by human activities, and presents serious challenges.
Scientists working on this issue report that the observed global warming cannot be explained by natural variations such as changes in the sun’s output or volcanic eruptions. The most authoritative source of information is the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which draws upon the collective wisdom of many hundreds of scientists from around the world. The IPCC projects global temperature increases of 3 to 10 degrees F in the next 100 years and says that human activity is the cause of most of the observed and projected warming.

#4 There’s a difference between weather and climate.
Weather refers to the conditions at one particular time and place, and can change from hour to hour, day to day, and season to season. Climate, on the other hand, refers to the long-term average pattern of weather in a place. Long-term data are needed to determine changes in climate, and such data indicate that Earth’s climate has been warming at a rapid rate since the start of intensive use of coal and oil in the late 1800s.

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#5 The ozone hole does not cause global warming.
Ozone depletion is a different problem, caused mainly by CFCs (like Freon) once used in refrigerators and air conditioners. In the past, CFCs were also used in aerosol spray cans, but that use was banned in the US in 1978. CFCs deplete the stratospheric ozone layer that protects life on Earth from excess ultraviolet light that can cause skin cancer and cataracts in humans and other damage to plants and animals. An international agreement has phased out most uses of CFCs but the ozone layer is only just beginning to recover, partly because these chemicals remain in the atmosphere for a long time. (Although ozone depletion is not the cause of global warming, there are a number of connections between the two. For example, many ozone-depleting compounds are also greenhouse gases. Some of the compounds now replacing CFCs in order to protect ozone are also greenhouse gases. And ozone itself is a greenhouse gas. In addition, while greenhouse gas build-up causes temperatures close to Earth’s surface to rise, it cause temperatures higher up, in the stratosphere, to fall. This stratospheric cooling speeds ozone depletion, delaying the recovery of the ozone hole.)

#6 Global warming will have significant impacts on people and nature.
As temperatures continue to rise, precipitation is projected to come more frequently in the form of heavy downpours. We can probably expect more extreme wet and dry conditions. In the western US, where snowpack provides free storage of most of the water supply, reduced snowpack will make less water available in summer. Coastal areas will become more vulnerable to storm surges as sea level rises. Plant and animal species will migrate or disappear in response to changes in climate; New England may lose its lobsters and maple trees as they move north into Canada. Natural ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangrove swamps, arctic tundra, and alpine meadows are especially vulnerable and may disappear entirely in some areas. While global warming will have impacts on natural and human systems all around the world, the largest impacts will be on many natural ecosystems and on people who live in developing countries and have few resources and little ability to adapt. On the positive side, warmer winters will reduce cold-related stresses and growing seasons will lengthen. And there will be tradeoffs in some areas, such as less skiing but more hiking; and fewer killing frosts but more bugs.

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#7 Sea level has already risen due to warming and is projected to rise much more.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that only if the polar ice caps melt will sea level rise. In fact, average sea level around the world has already risen 4 to 8 inches in the past 100 years due to global warming and is expected to rise another 4 to 35 inches (with a best guess of around 19 inches) by 2100. The primary reason for this rise is that water expands as it warms. The second reason is that glaciers all over the world are melting, and when land-based ice melts, the water runs to the sea and increases its level. Thousands of small islands are threatened by the projected sea-level rise for the 21st century, as are low-lying coastal areas such as southern Florida. Of course, if there is any significant melting of the polar ice sheets, the additional rise in sea level would be enormous (measured in feet not inches). This is projected to occur on a time scale of millennia rather than centuries.


#8 Saving energy and developing alternative energy sources would help.
Each of us can reduce our contribution to global warming by using less greenhouse-gas-producing energy: driving less, choosing fuel efficient cars and appliances (like refrigerators and water heaters), and using solar energy where feasible for water and space heat. We can encourage our political and business leaders to institute policies that will save energy and develop alternative energy sources that do not release carbon dioxide. We can preserve existing forests and plant new ones. But even if we take aggressive action now, we cannot completely prevent climate change because once carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere, it remains there for about a century, and the climate system takes a long time to respond to changes. But our actions now and in the coming decades will have enormous implications for future generations.

#9 An international agreement known as the Kyoto Protocol has been negotiated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the US is not participating in it.
Because of its high energy consumption, the US has long emitted more carbon dioxide than any other country. Because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for about 120 years, it accumulates, becomes equally distributed around the world, and has global effects. Thus, while using large amounts of energy to achieve economic growth, the US and other wealthy nations have unintentionally burdened the rest of the world with a long-term problem. And many negative impacts of climate change are likely to be more severe for poorer countries that lack the resources to adapt.

#10 Protecting the world’s climate by stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will require enormous reductions in current emissions.
Even if ratified, the Kyoto Protocol in its present form is only a start and would not be nearly enough to stabilize climate. It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions would have to be reduced to less than one third of current levels to stabilize atmospheric concentrations. This would require a major transformation of the energy sector. A mix of new and existing energy technologies will be needed to achieve this, including large increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Researchers are also developing technology to capture and bury carbon dioxide thousands of feet underground. Major increases in public and private research and development are needed to make the necessary technologies available as rapidly and economically as possible.

But the most significant reason for the controversy is that some special interests have mounted an active campaign to raise doubts and create confusion about this issue. For legitimate and other reasons, a very small number of scientists raise questions about whether warming has or will occur. When they do, special interests work hard to amplify and distribute the views of these “contrarians” in order to create confusion among the press, policymakers and public and give the impression that there is still a major scientific debate about the reality and causes of climate change. (Note: not all fossil fuel companies are implicated in this disinformation campaign. Some, in fact, have acknowledged the scientific realities and are taking steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions [see a list of such companies at the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change]).

EPA GLOBAL WARMING SITE


You can get up to speed on climate change issues quickly and efficiently at this site from the US Environmental Protection Agency. “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) is a good place to begin. Another good section, “In the News,” offers brief summaries of the latest developments in climate science and policy and provides links for further details. “Publications” provides links to authoritative reports from the top sources. “Outreach” offers a variety of very useful fact sheets (basic to advanced) to get you and your students started, as well as brochures that deal with particular aspects of the subject, such as “Climate Change and Birds” and “Climate Change and Public Lands.” One fact sheet, “Straight Talk on Global Warming,” deals with some of the most common misunderstandings and misrepresentations about the issue.

The “Outreach” section also includes publications that deal with policies and technological strategies for reducing human-induced climate change. Links to online tools are provided for calculating emissions reductions from various strategies. These tools can easily form the basis of classroom activities such as calculating carbon dioxide emissions reductions from walking to school instead of being driven, thus helping students relate personally to this global scale issue. The glossary is quite extensive and fairly technical and is a great resource for teachers and more advanced high school students.

A much simpler and far less comprehensive glossary for younger students can be found at EPA’s Global Warming Kids Page. Elementary and Middle School students will find this page an accessible place to begin. It includes simple explanations of the issues and characterizes scientists as “climate detectives” searching for clues in ice cores, tree rings and satellite data. It also provides links and games to appeal to younger students.

UN CLIMATE INFORMATION KIT


This is an excellent resource for information on climate change from the United Nations, World Meteorological Organization, and five other international agencies. The 63-page guide (downloads in pdf) is clearly written in plain English, and offers comprehensive information on the science of global climate change, potential impacts, adaptation and mitigation strategies, and policies. This policy emphasis – what the world is doing about climate change – sets this material apart. Data charts, including greenhouse gas emissions and their sources, are another useful feature. This thorough guide was updated in the summer of 2001 with information from the latest reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading authority on the subject. Note: International units are used in this guide, so take this opportunity to familiarize your students with converting degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit and metric measurements to English ones (e.g., meters to feet).

PEW CENTER ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE


The Pew Center on Global Climate Change is an independent, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing credible information and innovative solutions to addressing climate change. Funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and other sources, the Center produces reports by leading experts on climate change science, economics, policies, and solutions. It has also enlisted dozens of major companies in an effort to use the power of the marketplace to address climate change. The website offers an excellent set of resources that are useful for teachers and more advanced students, from the full text of the Center’s reports, to current articles and editorials, to lists of sites for more information.

UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS (UCS) CURRICULUM GUIDE


The UCS has produced a set of teaching materials designed to accompany “Global Warming: Early Warning Signs”- a science-based world map depicting local and regional consequences of global climate change. The map can be found at http://www.climatehotmap.org/. While UCS and the other organizations that produced the map are advocacy groups that call for policy actions on climate change, the lesson plans in the UCS Curriculum Guide are scientifically accurate, pedagogically sound, and do not reflect a bias. Rather, they encourage students to collect and analyze data and draw their own conclusions.

The 30-page Curriculum Guide is geared towards grades 9-12, but individual exercises are adaptable to other grade levels. Each activity is structured to include an initial “Engagement” exercise, one or more steps of a student “Exploration” project, and ideas for extended study. The activities align with National Learning Standards for Science, Geography, Social Studies, Language Arts, Environmental Education, and Technology, and the specific standards addressed by each activity are identified.

The web resources suggested for teacher and student use are authoritative and first rate.

Four activities are presented:
Climate Change in My City: Students use an historical climate index to analyze climate change at local, regional, and global scales. 
Oral History Project: Students interview older residents in the community about climate changes during their lifetime and compare the results to a climate change index that is based on historical temperature measurements. 
Climate Change and Disease: Students research the relationship between hosts, parasites, and vectors for common vector-borne diseases and evaluate how climate change could affect the spread of disease. 
Climate Change and Ecosystems: Students research the interdependencies among plants and animals in an ecosystem and explore how climate change might affect those interdependencies and the ecosystem as a whole.

Some information from the Global Environmental Facility GEF:

Climate Change Risks could cost Developing countries up to 19% of GDP by 2030

14 September 2009 | A report from the Economics of Climate Adaptation Working Group released today indicates that climate risks could cost nations up to 19% of their GDP by 2030, with developing countries most vulnerable. The report concludes, however, that cost effective adaptation measures already exist that can prevent between 40 and 68 percent of the expected economic loss with even higher levels of prevention possible in highly target geographies.

GEF projects in climate change help developing countries and economies in transition to contribute to the overall objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “to achieve […] stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner” (from the text of the UNFCCC, Art.2).

What Can I Do About It?

After learning about climate change, some students may want to know what they as individuals can do about it. This site from Environmental Defense offers 20 simple steps to reduce an individual’s contribution to global warming and gives the approximate carbon dioxide reduction attained by taking each step. While Environmental Defense is an advocacy group that supports strong measures to mitigate climate change, the suggested actions are simply those that are widely recommended to reduce energy use and its environmental impacts.

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Climate change is a human issue. It isn’t just about saving the planet and communities around the world face serious threats from the climate crisis. The TckTckTck campaign has created a great tool for learning the stories behind the human face of climate change. It’s called the Climate Orb and it is an animated interactive tool housing first-hand stories searchable by country, keyword and timeframe. Explore the Climate Orb.

Finally, don’t forget that people all around the world are getting involved and taking action. Next week, on October 24, 350.org is organizing the International Day of Climate Action. You can visit their site and see what people all around the world are planning to do next week to demonstrate their commitment to stopping climate change.

World Teacher’s Day – October 5th 2009

World Teachers’ Day is held annually to commemorate the anniversary of the signing in 1966 of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers. It is an occasion to celebrate the essential role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels. This year World Teachers’ Day is putting the spotlight on the global teacher shortage and the challenges of being a teacher today.

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It is particularly important to recognize the commitment  of teachers who work in particularly difficult conditions, such as in refugee camps, emergency situations and places involved in conflict. I remember while working in Colombia, when teachers from communities who were being attacked on both sides ,from FARC and from military forces, and their lives were at risk. I asked how can you keep teaching under those conditions. They replied,”because we love the children”. We must remember also those teachers trying to teach in places such as Afghanistan ,encouraging girls to be educated and then tortured or killed because they try to keep the school open.

INEE tries to ensure that teachers are adequately supported while working in such conditions and provides resources and  guidance for  governments and NGOs. The following appears on the website of INEE.

Along with structures, supplies, curricula and furniture, appropriately qualified teachers are critical for the provision of quality, relevant and protective education. In emergency situations or during transition and recovery, teachers not only enable children to continue learning but they also provide life-saving information and serve as a source of reassurance and routine for children and the wider community. Yet a global total of 10.3 million teachers need to be recruited between 2007 and 2015 and the areas most desperately in need of teachers are those affected by or recovering from crisis, fragility and displacement (for more info, see here)

The INEE Secretariat presented on the issue of teacher support and compensation on 28 September, on behalf of the network, at the Tenth Session of the Joint ILO/UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teaching Personnel (CEART) in Paris, France. The presentation allowed INEE to share information from members around the world about how crises are affecting teacher support and compensation and how that in turn negatively impacts upon quality and protective education. The INEE Secretariat then presented on the good practices contained in the INEE Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensationin Fragile States, Situations of Displacement and Post-Conflict Recovery (INEE Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensation), which were developed in a widely consultative manner under the leadership of an interagency advisory group (INEE Secretariat, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children Alliance, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF, Women’s Refugee Commission) with inputs from consultations and case studies prepared by INEE members working in Afghanistan, the DRC, Ethiopia, Guinea, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, the Thai-Burma border and Uganda.  The INEE Secretariat advocated that the Committee of Experts utilize the guidance within this tool to inform the application and monitoring of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation as it relates to issues of teacher remuneration, support and teaching and learning conditions in crisis and post-crisis settings.

INEE is pleased to highlight the fact that a standardised PowerPoint and targeted User’s Guides on the Teacher Compensation Guidance Notes have been developed for:

These User’s Guides explain why the INEE Guidance Notes are relevant for each of these actors and how they can be utilized; it also shares relevant lessons learnt for those preparing to use this tool. These tools will support INEE member and partner discussion and action on teacher support and compensation issues, including when specifically introducing the INEE Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensation to a new audience. All these resources, and more information about INEE’s Teacher Compensation Initiative can be found here: www.ineesite.org/teachercomp

Apart from these guides, we take this opportunity to highlight a number of other tools, resources and websites below that we hope you will find useful, and might be of particular interest as we celebrate the work of teachers worldwide.

INEE Minimum Standards Toolkit Thematic Guide on Teachers and other Education Personnel To help contextualise the good practice guidance within the INEE Minimum Standards, this Thematic Tool Guide contains practical field-friendly tools, guidelines, checklists, case studies and good practices linked to specific Minimum Standards relating to how to train, manage, compensate and monitor teachers and other education personnel, providing them with the necessary materials, support and supervision. Download here.

INEE Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensationin Fragile States, Situations of Displacement and Post-Conflict Recovery (INEE Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensation)
These Guidance Notes, available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic, provide guidance on the policy, coordination, management and financial aspects of teacher compensation, but also on teacher motivation, support and supervision. Download here.

Teachers Under Threat Podcast
As part of the Beyond School Books podcast series on education in emergencies and post crisis transition and in recognition of World Teachers’ Day, Amy Costello speaks with Dr Mario Novelli, Lecturer in International Development at the University of Amsterdam and Mr. Sunai Phasuk, Thailand and Burma researcher in Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, about targeted attacks on teachers in Colombia and southern Thailand, and the devastating impact this is having on the education of children. Listen from here.

Education International World Teachers’ Day page and poster
Education International represents nearly 30 million teachers and education workers operating in 172 countries and territories, from pre-school to university. As the world’s largest Global Union Federation, Education International works to protect the rights of every teacher and education worker, and every student they educate. Download here.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics Information Sheet on Global Demand for Teachers
A brief on the number of teachers needed worldwide. Download here. Please note that, according to UNESCO, by the end of the week a technical paper on the Teacher Gap will be available at www.uis.unesco.org/publications/teachers2009

In addition, there are a number of relevant reports available on the INEE Teacher Compensation webpage under the Related Resources Box, including:

  • Listen to the Teachers: Education in Rural Africa
  • Meeting EFA: Afghanistan Home-Based Schools
  • Leveraging Learning: Revitalizing Education in Post-Conflict Liberia
  • Teaching Well? Educational reconstruction efforts and support to teachers in postwar Liberia
  • Managing Teachers: The centrality of teacher management to quality education. Lessons from developing world

WEBSITES

World Teacher’s Day website: http://www.unesco.org/en/teacher-education/advocacy/world-teachers-day/

Education International: http://www.ei-ie.org/en/index.php

Joint ILO/UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teaching Personnel (CEART): http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/sector/techmeet/ceart

UNESCO Teacher Training Initiative for Sud-Saharan Africa (TISSA): www.unesco.org/en/teacher-education

EFA Working Group on Teachers: http://www.unesco.org/en/efa-international-coordination/international-cooperation/task-force-on-teachers/

UNICEF http://www.unicef.org/teachers Handbooks for Teachers & Educators

Child Protection
Compendium on Quality in Basic Education

Was the Apollo 11 moon landing a hoax? – UNESCO and the International Year of Astronomy

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Was the Apollo 11 moon landing a hoax? Of course, it matters whether it is true or not.

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But in some ways  it does not. What is important, now, is that young people learn about scientific method and process (which has links to legal process and human rights) and how to search for and interrogate different  forms of evidence. Using the arguments and evidence (including a lot of visual evidence, which can be manipulated) of the issues around the moon  landings brings into sharper focus not only a need for skills of presenting , analysing and interpreting  evidence but also an understanding about bias and prejudice within the media, and how people’s views and understandings can be manipulated.

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Training teachers to provide real opportunities for students to explore sensitive and sometimes even provocative issues can help their students  become more ‘human’ . Teachers not only have to have the skills, knowledge and attitudes to provide learning opportunities  but also the freedom and with it the responsibility  to extend the curriculum to meet students’ future needs and interests.

If you want more opportunities to explore the ‘moon landings hoax’ – try these:

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hollywood studio?
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and this is good for a laugh

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and for NASA’s rebuttals

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If scientific methods are understood and practiced and which lead to reduced prejudice and improved tolerance then we will have made a giant leap….

For a virtual tour of the moon try: http://www.google.com/moon/


UNESCO is leading the International Year of Astronomy

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Just like prejudice  ‘the essential is invisible to our eyes‘, which is the compelling title of theories of the universe – Cosmologists believe that about 70 percent of the universe consists of dark energy, 25 percent of dark matter, and only 5% of ‘normal matter’ (known elements such as stars, planets, etc.).

What is dark matter and what is dark energy? Our understanding of the physical world will be revolutionized the day we discover the answers to these two questions, which will be central to the “Invisible Universe” programme presented at UNESCO from 29 June to 10 July, as part of the International Year of Astronomy celebration.

The exhibition “Exploring the Invisible Universe” will show how modern astronomy and more generally modern science has converged toward a vision of our reality based on the invisible, in the sense of not directly detectable.

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The exhibition is organized with the support of the Natural Sciences Sector of UNESCO.

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Discover all levels of the Cosmos – the closest to the farthest – a trip that starts with the solar system and ends at the confines of the most distant known galaxies and structures.

“Palais de la Découverte” – Paris, France

From 23 June to 22 November 2009

In the IYA there are global programmes of activities centred on a specific theme and are some of the projects that will help to achieve the IYA2009’s main goals.

  1. 100 Hours of Astronomy
  2. Cosmic Diary
  3. Portal to the Universe
  4. She is an Astronomer
  5. Dark Skies Awareness
  6. Astronomy and World Heritage (Universal treasures)
  7. Galileo Teacher Training Programme
  8. Universe Awareness (One place in the Universe)
  9. From Earth to the Universe (The beauty of science)
  10. Developing Astronomy Globally (Astronomy for all)

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And for discovering for yourself why not invest in the new  Galileoscope (only a few dollars!)

Galileoscope-CAD-Side

Galileo’s Classroom

Astronomy is an ideal vehicle to interest kids in science and to teach the basics of chemistry, physics, math, and even biology to elementary and middle-school kids. For high school it’s the perfect science since it uses biology, chemistry, physics, geology, and environmental science to study the universe and our place in it.

Galileos-Classroom

Astronomy is also ideally suited to teaching the scientific process — how observations and evidence lead to sensible explanations about how the world works.

It is no exaggeration to say that the telescope changed everything: Galileo’s discoveries literally revolutionized our perception of the universe and Earth’s place in it.

The Galileoscope™ is a high-quality, low-cost telescope kit developed for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 by a team of leading astronomers, optical engineers, and science educators. No matter where you live, with this easy-to-assemble, 50-mm (2-inch) diameter, 25- to 50-power achromatic refractor, you can see the celestial wonders that Galileo Galilei first glimpsed 400 years ago and that still delight stargazers today. These include lunar craters and mountains, four moons circling Jupiter, the phases of Venus, Saturn’s rings, and countless stars invisible to the unaided eye.

sunandearthfrommoon

Space studies bring a new dimension to science education. They introduce new knowledge, values and perspectives on the planet Earth and develop better understanding of the universe and beyond. Space studies, based on the rational arguments of physics and mathematics, help the development of the critical thinking process, participatory problem solving and decision making skills of students, which are central to quality education, the priority goal of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).

essential is invisible

And don’t forget the range of images from the edge of the known universe taken by the Hubble telescope

image from Hubble
image from Hubble

The  ideas represented above including ‘the essential is in the invisible’ mean that for  young people there is still plenty of scope for discovery, enquiry, exploration and creativity – the stuff that real education is made of , which allows students to make giant leaps in their learning.

Education for All? …Reaching and Teaching… the most marginalised and least included (example:Chad)

Education for All?

According to UNESCO there are still 75 million children out of school ( more than half of these being girls)  and millions more leave school, early, without acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills. Who are these unreached that do not have access to quality  schooling and learning opportunities?

They are the most disadvantaged and excluded, such as learners from remote and rural communities; learners from religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities/indigenous peoples; girls and women; children from migrant/nomadic  families; learners with disabilities; street children; working children,orphans; children and young people affected (and discriminated against ) through contracting  HIV / AIDS.

2MigWaterislife

Even these figures may be an understatement of the real situation as there are a number of children/young people who start school, find it difficult to attend school regularly, repeat grades and finally drop out. We may know the official number enrolled but not the number who just don’t /can’t turn up to school regularly and therefore do not complete even the most basic education program.

I will focus on just a few countries where I have been working – Chad, Guyana, Mauritius, Madagascar and Azerbaijan, to consider what can be done to ‘teach the unreached’ . I have already looked at  Timor Leste and Vietnam1 and Vietnam 2.

Let’s continue with Chad.

CHAD
CHAD

Chad (French: Tchad, Arabic: تشاد‎ Tshād), officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west.

Chad is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. Arabic and French are the official languages. Islam and Christianity are the most widely practiced religions.

The country is one of the poorest countries in the world; most Chadians live in poverty as subsistence herders and farmers. Since 2003 crude oil has become the country’s primary source of export earnings, superseding the traditional cotton industry.

I started working with UNICEF Chad helping to establish a small project to provide some form of quality education of children from Nomadic and semi nomadic families. The representative, Daniele Brady,  worked with  enthusiasm and vision  to make things happen under very difficult conditions.

Unfortunately, recent changes in the politics of the region,particularly the situation in Darfur, Sudan , has destabilised the country , encouraged two coups and left the country dealing with thousands of refugees. UNICEF has had to change from providing support to the government for long term education provision for all , to shorter term emergency support for children’s health, education and most importantly, safety. For emergency education services UNICEF has provided

  • In addition to erecting 350 school tents, UNICEF and its partners have financed construction of 250 semi-permanent classrooms. Each classroom can handle 80 children and will withstand eastern Chad’s harsh climate.
Refugee girls learning outdoors
Refugee girls learning outdoors
  • More than 600 school-in-a-box kits allowed 45,000 Sudanese refugee children to attend school, some for the very first time.
outdoor classroom
outdoor classroom
  • Thirty child-friendly areas in the refugee camps have given 27,000 children an opportunity to play, learn, and recover from their physical and psychological scars.

ibc_11_CHD_cwalthUNICEF

Although UNICEF is used to working on emergencies, the recent refugee influx from Darfur, has taken resources away from longer term goals for those Chadian children who do not have access to education.

I was working with UNICEF on the education of children from nomadic families.

nomadic community
nomadic community

There are thought to be over a quarter of a million nomads in the east of Chad. During the dry season the nomads are in the south of the country, the cattle herders generally going further south than the camel herders, and then during the rainy season they move north, again the camel herders going further north than the cattle.

chief
                                                                                                                                   chief

Nomads survive because of their:

Mobility Because nomads live in areas of climatic extremes they’ve had to be flexible and opportunistic. Mobility allows them to profit from widely-dispersed resources, such as water, whose availability varies from year to year.

water is life
water is life

Mixed Economies Pastoral nomads raise several kinds of animals: usually one large prestigious species,such as cattle or camels and several smaller animals like goats and sheep. Disease or drought affects each species differently, thus increasing the nomads’ chances of survival.

Chadcamels

Tribal Sharing Most nomadic peoples are organized into tribes or clans which have a customary claim over a specific territory and can support each other.

Nomadic peoples face many threats today, but the most serious is the attempt to stop them moving around  (‘sedenterization’)

nomadic architectue
nomadic architectue

Nomads  don’t fit neatly into national boundaries and they tend to look and behave differently from majority  populations,.


2Migratface

They need to be brought together for their ‘own good’, government officials claim – so they can be educated,  taxed and given proper health care, electricity and roads.

State planners claim that wandering pastoralists are inefficient and that they are ignorant of modern animal  husbandry.


Major constraints to their participation in formal  education are:

i) their constant migrations/movements in search of water and pasture in the case of the nomadic pastoralists;

Precious water sources
Precious water sources

ii) the centrality of child labour in their production system, thus making it extremely difficult to allow their children to  participate in formal schooling,if in a fixed school;

Centrality of child labour
Centrality of child labour – providing water for the animals

ii) the irrelevance of the school curriculum which is tailored to meet the needs of sedentary groups and thus ignores the educational needs of nomadic peoples;

iv) their physical isolation, since they operate in largely inaccessible physical environments; and

v) a land-tenure system that makes it difficult for the nomads to acquire land and settle in one place.

Of course the main difficulty in providing education to children of nomadic families is that the children move and schools tend to be static. One solution, started in the 1970’s was to use an extra camel to carry the extra equipment (chalkboard and tent) for a mobile school.

schoolCamel

Civil war disrupted this system and nomadic children have had little access to education since. Other reasons include the mistrust of the ‘French’ system of education which nomads feel does not  respect their culture/language/way of life. So for Chadian Arabic speakers only Koranic schools provided some sort of education.

2MigKoranicKoranic schools provide some education,though limited, to children of nomadic families.

Some NGOs have been able to build some schools for ‘semi-nomadic’ communities where children and old people stay in one place and teenage boys and parents move with the animals.

Bringing the school to the children
Bringing the school to the children

When parents were asked ‘What do you want from education?” They answered that their children needed to know how to look after their animals, and they needed to know their rights. Police and military often tried to extort money from them because of some infringements that they could not understand, due to their lack of French language. So as an education consultant you were faced with re-thinking education completely – taking away a static school and all its teaching resources. The  needs of the families unfortunately seemed a long way from the  objectives from the national education system, which was still rooted in the French colonial era.

How often do we find in different countries that a ‘classical’ approach to education exported with colonial rule does not meet the present day needs of many families. Even in Western countries life saving and life enhancing knowledge about our own health is relegated to a slot on a Friday afternoon and taught by a teacher who is not well trained in the demands of an active and participatory approach to health education. These nomadic families were saying that the health of their animals would be the only thing that helped them survive – without that knowledge education would be worthless.

fatherChad

We started by talking with representatives of nomadic families. What do they need and how to cooperate together to reach such objectives?

The nomadic communities offered one community member to be trained as a teacher by UNICEF as they had had earlier experience of urban teachers being sent to teach the children who had no understanding of nomadic life and culture. Providing the teacher was a sacrifice for the community as young people in the community would normally be needed for looking after the animals.

The second aspect was the curriculum and learning materials. It was decided that UNICEF and the Ministry of Education would start by developing some themes around animal and child health. It was also decided to utilise the idea of self learning materials so that students of different ages could learn together. Escuala Nueva based in Colombia, have had a lot of experience of developing ‘self -learning’ guides  and it was this model that was used as a basis for developing the learning materials for the themes.

Workshops were held with writers, teachers, animal and child health experts as well as an artist who would cooperate together to produce  learning guides which were trialed with students in nearby schools, to gauge the readability and understanding of the materials.

Teachers and writers
Teachers and writers

The self learning guide includes all the instructions that a teacher might normally give as well as  basic information , activities and research, extending the use and understanding of that information as well as formative assessment activities. Students are encouraged to work together to solve problems and increase their mastery by interaction in pairs and small groups .

2MigchildrenSchool

In this new understanding of what education could offer children of nomadic families, girls were particularly needing and wanting education.

2girlsChad

On a Saturday morning I went to visit a school,hoping to talk to the teacher. I could not find the teacher and the school was locked but a group of girls were patiently waiting outside in the vain hope that the teacher may turn up. In the mean time they were educating themselves and doing a good job of it.

Waiting for the teacher
Waiting for the teacher

In other makeshift classrooms  in semi nomadic communities children and their mothers were eager students ready to explore a hitherto unknown world of open education.

2MiadultSchool

The situation shown below illustrates something about the traditional view of ‘French’ education. In the village everyone lives in round houses and sits on mats on the floor. However, when they wanted a site for the school they used the model of the school that has been presented to them -a square concrete box with desks and benches  – colonialisation of the mind!

3CollEFAChd

When you send your daughter to school you have to find ways of making up for the lost labour source otherwise the family cannot cook and eat  because they have no water or firewood. UNICEF and women’s organizations helped to ease this situation by supporting families with energy efficient stoves, tools and donkeys so that girls did not have to spend so long on their tasks and could go to school.

2MigDonkeygirl

Unfortunately, even with all this hard work and progress there are setbacks. Children thought that civil war was over and they would benefit from the new oil revenues :

2Migrattak

But with the instability caused by the  situation in Darfur and the increased hostility against nomadic peoples due to the competition for water and grazing land then the future for these children is far from rosy…..

Children of the Perl
Children of the Perl

The brain, human evolution, the universe and beyond our insignificance

I wanted to write about conflict management but came across some other interesting ideas which will lead me towards conflict management and even resolution.

First if war starts in the mind then we should first understand the brain and then work on its adaptation:

brain-2

Check out a new animation from New Scientist

brain interactive

And Stephen Hawking  has been ruminating on human evolution

We are now entering a new phase, of what Hawking calls “self designed evolution,” in which we will be able to change and improve our DNA. “At first,” he continues “these changes will be confined to the repair of genetic defects, like cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy. These are controlled by single genes, and so are fairly easy to identify, and correct. Other qualities, such as intelligence, are probably controlled by a large number of genes. It will be much more difficult to find them, and work out the relations between them. Nevertheless, I am sure that during the next century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence, and instincts like aggression.”

hawking

If the human race manages to redesign itself, to reduce or eliminate the risk of self-destruction, we will probably reach out to the stars and colonize other planets. But this will be done, Hawking believes, with intelligent machines based on mechanical and electronic components, rather than macromolecules, which could eventually replace DNA based life, just as DNA may have replaced an earlier form of life.

Casey Kazan

And while we are considering reaching out to the stars, anyone who has a rather inflated view of him/herself  should take a look through the Hubble telescope and consider how insignificant they are in comparison to the ‘big picture’

Next post on issues around conflict, conflict management and training