Monday, 10 June 2013

Education - Who Needs It?

A chunk of my life (between 1984 and 2012) has somehow always been connected with educational environments - whether working for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park as Information Officer and later, Archivist and Photographer; being an audio-visual technician in the education faculty at Bretton Hall (when it was a College); teaching on supply in schools in West Yorkshire; working as an Instructor at Bedford College; developing e-learning at Cranfield University; and more recently, working as an e-Learning Manager for Kirklees Council's Learning Service.

So then I get a notification mailing from LinkedIn, offering up groups that may interest me.  Quite often, I think twice about joining groups - particularly education-related ones, since I feel I am [at the time of writing this] no longer directly involved with schools and colleges - these days preferring to focus on my writing.  Having said this, I continue to run a resource site for schools and colleges: eLearning Central. The problem (figuratively speaking) is that I'm not sure, despite a strong underlying interest, whether I really want to be involved anymore!  So then I look at the groups and I can't stop myself from joining them all... then I see a thread title that draws me in further... and the next thing I know, I'm chatting on Skype with someone with a similar educational philosophy to my own... he mentions some other people... I add him and some other links to my website for other people to access... and then I email a woman who has been mentioned, Tracy Hanson (Founder of Next Generation Global Education) and switch off the computer for the night.  She's emailed me back by the morning and suggests Skyping - at which point I'm thinking: "I don't know what I can say about anything!" and "I don't know if I want to get involved in education stuff again." I looked at a video link she sent:

A couple of hours later, and we are chatting over Skype and it's evident we share a lot of similar views on education.  Tracy (based in America) has also been working with a teacher and his school (based in Nairobi).  Next thing I know (after about 2 hours chatting already) I'm invited to join her 'now due' lesson.  So suddenly, there we all are and I'm viewing quite a dark image of a little classroom in what is described on their own website as being:

The Cheery Children Education Centre (CCEC), located in the heart of Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya at Mashimoni.

I'm introduced to the class and among a few intermittent technical problems, a short lesson takes place, ending with the children singing a number song.

Here's a visible image taken from their website:

It's now that I am brought face-to-face with who needs education. They have one laptop, plus  initial financial help setting up an Internet connection, courtesy of Tracy Hanson.

There is an obvious need for resources and when Tracy asked if they could access a ball of yarn or some string for a project idea based around a spider, none was available.  They also really needed some more laptops, or at least a projector so that everyone could see Tracy's lesson more clearly. Of course, they needed quite a few things more basic than laptops, but you have to start with what is around or can be found.  Feel like helping?

The children like singing and dancing and the school sent me this link:



  1. That video clip of the children singing, was so touching Richard! Look at the size of the little boy's shoes, at the front...Gosh... they look big! Bless him.

    1. Yes - they are examples of joy despite adversity.