In 1960, at age 6, a small girl’s world came crashing down when she had to move from a secure and affectionate shelter with her grandmother to go live with her teenage mother in Milwaukee, USA. Everything she learned and hoped up until then was destroyed when she was removed from school because her mother couldn’t afford it with her meagre salary and unhealthy lifestyle. From age 9 to 13, she had endured severe emotional and physical abuse that left her traumatised and in despair of the future. At age 14, after giving birth to a boy who died in infancy, her father took her to Tennessee where she started to reconstruct her life from scratch. Under her father’s strict upbringing, who made her education a priority, she became an honours student, graduated with a full scholarship and eventually, the richest African American of the 20th century.
Oprah Winfrey, the “Queen of All Media”, would have disappeared into oblivion if not for her aspiration for a better quality of life through education. Her father set her up for reformation and success by reevaluating her principles and values with schooling. By virtue of her struggles, Oprah discovered the power of literacy and since then established charities to support multiple social causes. As of 2012, she had donated $400 million to educational causes alone. She is the ultimate illustration of how transformative education can be in one’s life.
Yet, in a world of notorious college dropout billionaires, taking the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, our children can question the potency of school and universities in the age of disruptive technology. Whilst education is defined as the formal process of acquiring knowledge, values and skills, learning on the other hand is a basic instinct possessed by all individuals. Certainly, there is a considerable difference between learning and education but, the goal of both remains the same, which is to shape students into capable people, help them cope with real problems and become responsible, independent individuals. To this, we would add the importance of financial literacy, to ensure that children grow up as responsible adults, capable of managing the resources they will need for their livelihood. As parents, we go all out to provide the best for our kids – and if we are able to keep their intrinsic learning flame burning, our children’s pursuit of personal development becomes a lifelong process.
In our last post, we learnt that not every child on this planet has easy access to these learning opportunities; for millions, it comes at a high price of sacrifice or sometimes none at all.
Fortunately, over the centuries, the world has witnessed a great deal of transformation in the mediums of education. From carvings on the caves to lessons on the cloud, we have revolutionized the sources of knowledge and the means through which we acquire it. And so have the channels to contribute to SDG# 4 – Quality Education, the goal to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Here are 4 not-for-profit projects for parents who want to engage with their kids to abate the disparities for the disadvantaged ones at all levels of educational opportunities.
Professors without borders
The mission of Professors without borders is to connect educators and students worldwide to increase equal access to learning experiences. The organization partners with institutions in many developing countries like India and Nigeria to facilitate a holistic and engaging instructive atmosphere to develop skills to have a meaningful impact on individuals and their communities. Involving children in NGOs such as these will give them a chance to explore various study options and gather knowledge for a diverse and competitive future.
Room to Read
This is another excellent organization that is committed to providing quality education to low-income communities by equipping libraries and reading places with the help of local schools, communities and governments. Room to Read believes that constructive changes start with a child with a book and invests in the education of one million children every year. They have book club chapters across the globe including Switzerland.
By joining their book club, you and your children will be part of a web of global citizens of all ages, races and cultures that opens the door to learning something new and inspiring every month. Also, by partnering with them, you can even encourage your little volunteers to start a campaign to raise money by dedicating their birthday or pulling an event or putting up a lemonade stand in the name of education.
ETKultur is an NGO in Zurich that brings immigrants and locals closer by publicly accessible events like exhibitions, workshops and language tandem sessions. More than once a month, locals and immigrants come together at community centres to exchange ideas and stories by participating in their featured events.
If you live in or around Zurich, attending or participating in ETKultur’s events with your children will give you a taste of diverse cultures and their struggles. Interacting with migrants and their children will help broaden your kids’ cognitive horizons, develop a deeper understanding of other countries and their educational limitations. Above all, is there any better way to learn a new language than from the natives themselves?
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a global initiative for the United Nations, has come into action to directly impact the 2030 Agenda in Switzerland. By leveraging the country’s world-class science and research capabilities, aided by the Center for Development and Environment at the University of Bern, and Biovision Foundation, Bern and Zurich, Switzerland, SDSN is driving innovative and transformational solutions to all regions and all sectors, including civil society, public, and private sectors. One of the projects initiated by SDSN is Biblio 2030, which aims to ensure that information on the SDGs and the skills to use this information are available in libraries to everyone.
In addition to providing resources on SDGs via Bibliothek Information Schweiz, the project also holds occasional events and workshops to promote sustainable solutions and practices endorsed by Federal, Cantonal and Local authorities. Shared Reading is another initiative that is developed to nurture the habit of all forms of literature and enable connections. Next time when you visit a library, make sure to inquire about the availability of a variety of resources to engage your kids into SDGs from multilingual reading animations for families to intergenerational IT tutorials, current reading recommendations and reading groups, exhibitions from local initiatives. Be prepared to be amazed!
Our basic role is being a parent but from time to time our roles keep changing from being a teacher, friend or just an observer. As we switch between the roles, we should also be mindful of the environment we are creating. Your interactions and responses are an important ingredient in turning any place into a loving, learning lab. Join us in fostering a healthy climate that encourages love for learning, expands reasoning and collaboration not necessarily by activities or special materials but mostly by, having open-ended and meaningful discussions.
If you haven’t already downloaded your copy of FREE digital copy of A SMART WAY TO START DOING GOOD, you can find it here. Read it aloud together with your child. It will make for an engaging learning journey through the world’s to-do list. Education – SDG 4 – is indeed the foundation to resolve all the other SDGs.