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Newsletter January 2008

From creating international movements and rewarding entrepreneurial educators, to charity rock gigs, welcome to another edition of the Teach A Man To Fish quarterly newsletter – and Happy 2008!

  • Better Together: Notes from a Different Kind of Conference
  • Outperforming the Competition: Africa’s Exceptional Educators
  • Planning on Sustainability: Nicaraguan Self-Sufficient School Start-Up
  • Budding Relationships: Kenya Schools Get Networking
  • News in Brief: From Facebook to Funk

Better Together: Notes from a Different Kind of Conference

Participants at the recent Teach A Man To Fish conference commit to work together to advance sustainable education in developing countries

When over 140 participants from more than 20 countries on 6 continents come together for an event looking at alternative approaches to education you can expect there’ll be a lot to learn – and there was certainly no shortage of food for thought at Financially Self-Sufficient Schools 2007 which took place in Paraguay early in December.

From multi-million dollar agro-education cooperatives to tiny private schools in city slums; from eco-tourism training in the Amazon, to waste management apprenticeships in Cameroon; the diversity of sustainable education initiatives showcased was truly inspiring.

What stood out in particular, however, was a sense that even the best of these approaches are too often written off as ‘one-off’ success stories - with their potential for creating systemic change over-looked.

Participants at Financially Self-Sufficient Schools 2007As the conference drew to a head, the message came out loud and clear - wherever we stand on the spectrum of sustainable education, we need to stand together if we want to create real change.

There’s an old Chinese proverb (another one!) that says ‘a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’. This conference may have been one of the first steps on what will be a very long journey - but at least, travelling together, the road will now seem a little less lonely!

For a full account of the conference, with photos, videos & downloadable presentations click here.


Outperforming the Competition: Africa’s Exceptional Educators

Winners of the 1st Pan-African Prize for Entrepreneurial Teachers Announced

Akwany Collecting His PrizeA serial social entrepreneur teaching schools and communities how eco-business and conservation can pay. A primary school teacher improving nutrition and family incomes through pupil-led satellite farms. A community leader establishing a training programme for adolescents to turn waste into marketable products.

The recent Pan-African competition confirmed what we already knew - that there are indeed extraordinary educators across Africa who transcend their limited resources to achieve astonishing results.

The First Prize of $10,000 was awarded to Akwany Leonard of Ecofinder Youth Movement, Kenya in recognition of his work combining entrepreneurship and environmental education in Western Kenya.

The two grass-roots organizations founded by Akwany have worked with over 100 schools and many more community groups on a diverse range of innovative educational projects from tree nursery businesses to wetlands conservation schemes

Receiving his prize at Financially Self-Sufficient Schools 2007 in Paraguay Akwany observed “Africa has the answers to the challenges of Africa today. When we teach our children how they can protect the environment and make money at the same time, we can be confident that their children will in turn share a brighter future.”

Eleven prizes of $1,000 each have also been awarded to best entries from other African countries.

To read more about the top three prize winners’ work click here

For details of all winners including country prizes click here

 

Planning on Sustainability: Nicaraguan Self-Sufficient School Start-Up

Pioneering coffee company lays the groundwork for Central America’s first Financially Self-Sufficient Agricultural High School.
 
For many companies Corporate Social Responsibility is something of an afterthought - perhaps a token addition to the marketing budget. For others, like the La Bastilla coffee company in Nicaragua it’s part of a genuine commitment to improving opportunities in the communities that sustain them.

Children at La Bastilla Primary SchoolAlthough La Bastilla was well aware that access to education for their children was a real priority for local people, it was clear that building a regular high school in this poor and rural area wouldn’t be enough. Somehow it would have to be paid for year after year – which without government funding or fees would result in dependence on the company, and reduce funding available for further initiatives.

While looking for innovative approaches which overcome this problem, La Bastilla came across our model of ‘Education That Pays For Itself’ and immediately saw its possibilities. The first step was to put together a strong business plan, so in September a technical assistance team from TeachAManToFish spent several weeks in Nicaragua surveying market opportunities and local needs.

The five year road-map to financial self-sufficiency which came out of this work lays out a number of school businesses - such as coffee plantations, eco-tourism, and poultry farming – whose profits will cover running and maintenance costs. At the same time these enterprises will provide students a realistic environment in which to learn key business skills.

It may not be their motivation, but it’s a safe bet that some of the entrepreneurial graduates from this school will play their own part in La Bastilla’s future success. With a strong social and business case for such initiatives, surely it’s time for other such companies to ‘wake up and smell the coffee!’


Budding Relationships: Kenya Schools Get Networking

Starting a profitable school business is a real challenge for any teacher wherever they’re based. Creating opportunities for teachers to share their experiences can however help to ensure common mistakes are avoided and best practices copied.

Teach A Man To Fish Kenya WorkshopBack in November, 23 teachers and project managers involved in Teach A Man To Fish projects from all over Western Kenya got together at Luanda Dudi School, to exchange views, advice and learn about each other.

During the day-long workshop participants not only presented their work and plans for the future, but also opened their projects up for constructive criticism from their peers.

Passionate debate followed about the merits of European bees vs. African bees, mangoes with the most market promise, and methods for growing indigenous vegetables - and there was even some pertinent advice about the frivolity of monkey farming!

With progress made on such common issues as protecting school enterprises from theft and maximizing financial transparency participants went home motivated to take their work even further.

Meshack Omondi, manager of the Lwak Girls School Beekeeping project reflected on the day. ‘The network we have started here today is a very good thing. We plan to arrange student exchanges between schools, and I’ve even had other members offer markets for my products!

NB: Members of the Teach A Man To Fish Network will soon find it much easier to set up their own national networks. To join the Teach A Man To Fish Network and receive more information on this and other opportunities, click here.

[STOP PRESS: As you will be aware Kenya is currently going through a period of immense turmoil. Many of our partners' have been severely restricted in their work, but the important thing is that all of those who we have been able to contact are safe and well. Our thoughts are with them all and the people of Kenya at this difficult time.]

 

News in Brief:

Teach A Man To Fish - now on FacebookTeach A Man To Facebook
With over 20 million users worldwide, Facebook.com is undisputed king of the social networking sites. It not only makes it easy for groups of friends to stay in touch and share photos and links, but is increasingly being used by non-profits – such as Teach A Man To Fish– to let friends and supporters know what we’re up to and how they can get involved.

Facebook users can now become a ‘friend’ of our alter ego 'Teachaman Tofish' – or join our facebook group here.

Live Bait: The Alternative Charity GigLive Bait 2007
Despite the wet and cold over 200 people made it along to Live Bait the first in what will hopefully be a series of charity gigs in support of Teach A Man To Fish.

Rising stars on the London scene from Le Shark to 6 Day Riot kept the crowds entertained with a mix of rock and funk – meanwhile all donations received will go towards small scale agricultural projects at our partner schools in Kenya.


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