Newsletter May 2008

Student success stories, pioneering schools, ex-presidents, and a ballerina on skis being dragged behind a car (!) - welcome to another edition of the Teach A Man To Fish quarterly newsletter!

  • Changing Lives: From Gangs to Gardens in the Philippines
  • Where Needs Must: A Remarkable High School in Vietnam
  • Conference Call: Education That Pays For Itself 2008 - South Africa
  • Recognizing Commitment: Clinton Highlights Education That Pays for Itself
  • News in Brief: Running, Driving & Stunt-Skiing for Schools

Sometimes we focus so much on what schools are doing, that the real human stories of why we’re so passionate about sustainable education gets lost. We can count the young people we’re helping in the thousands, but it’s by creating individual impacts - as highlighted in the following article - that we ultimately judge our success.

Changing Lives: From Gangs to Gardens in the Philippines

Escaping a troubled past to build a brighter future; the story of 16 year old Harney Madino
Article by Michael Bengawayan, CEO, PINE TREE (Teach A Man To Fish project partner)

Harney Harvesting ZucchiniHarney was a tough guy. At 14 years old he stabbed a man who tried to steal his younger sister’s Walkman. He went on probation. He led a gang called Bahala Na, or “What Do I Care?”, and extorted one peso – around 20 US cents - from each bus driver in his turf. He busted jaws, kicked rival gangsters to a pulp and drank more than his share of ethyl alcohol.

When his mother died, the responsibility of caring for his four siblings fell on his shoulders. He found out he was not so tough when his younger brothers and sisters cried they were hungry.

Determined not to let his siblings sleep on an empty belly, his bravado was replaced by a new zeal - to work for a living. No one believed him. Many of those he approached for work were even afraid of him.

He came to us. He told his story. We believed him.

After three months of skills and entrepreneurship training, he’d sold his harvest from 400 square meter of organically-grown lettuce and could not believe his eyes. He’d grossed US$530 –through honest work!

Today, even after graduating from our course, he visits weekly, tries to learn new ideas on gardening and talks to other trainees. He invited us to his backyard garden one day. There, with his four siblings busy weeding, he showed his taro plants and sweet potato tubers, all awaiting their place in the market. We felt elated. 

As we parted, we stopped and looked back. He waved goodbye. I could sense he was smiling, his siblings proudly gazing at him.

He is tough still; but in a different way.

To find out more about some of the techniques used in this Teach A Man To Fish supported project, visit the PINE TREE project blog online.

Where Needs Must: A Remarkable High School in Vietnam

Students in Metal Workshop Dong Nai School VietnamLacking funds and facing closure, teachers at Dong Nai School put their homes on the line to create a truly entrepreneurial high school.

It’s often said that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of Dong Nai school in Vietnam. When its owner, a state-run company, stopped paying for maintenance and teacher salaries Dong Nai found itself on the brink of closure.

A meeting of all staff was called, and together they decided on an ambitious plan to save the institution – albeit one with some high risks. Using their own homes as collateral they raised a bank loan to support their business plan for making the school financially sustainable.

Mr ChanhThe plan involved a two-pronged approach focussed on generating income and improving efficiency. Skills taught, from welding to automobile repair, formed the foundations of school businesses. With strategic investment in machinery the school began to sell its services to local customers, using each order as a chance for students to refine their practical skills to the level required by the market.

To improve the school’s efficiency new contracts were agreed with all staff which linked work performed to pay received. Mr Chanh, the school’s director insists that by being transparent about earnings, and creating a sense of ownership amongst staff, teachers not only work harder now, but ensure their colleagues also perform.

Ten years on from the initial crisis and the school generates around 75% of its income from production and services, with the remainder coming from fees. The school’s highly market-oriented training ensures it is in great demand both from students and employers – and importantly of course, the teachers haven’t lost their houses!

Conference Call: Education That Pays For Itself 2008 – South Africa

Teach A Man To Fish announces the dates of international conference on sustainable education, along with a call for proposals.
Education That Pays For Itself 2008With overwhelmingly positive feedback from our 2007 international conference in Paraguay, Teach A Man To Fish is delighted to announce this year’s event ‘Education That Pays For Itself 2008’ which will take place in South Africa, 18-20 November 2008.

The conference will bring together some of the world’s leading practitioners in financially sustainable education, along with policymakers, donors, educators, and local NGOs from around the world, in a unique forum for learning, networking, inspiration and action.

The event represents an unrivalled opportunity to be part of community that is transforming education in developing countries by integrating entrepreneurship and financial sustainability into the fabric of schools.

Share your work, establish new partnerships, get solutions to your toughest problems at our consultancy clinic sessions, and have a little fun – we can honestly promise you won’t forget the experience!

Find out more, here.

Call for proposals:
Don’t just participate, stimulate! Teach A Man To Fish is currently accepting proposals from all individuals and organisations working in entrepreneurship, skills education and related fields wishing to present their work at the conference. Please visit the conference website for more details on how to submit a proposal and for acceptance criteria.

Martin Burt with Jimmy Carter
It’s like buses - you wait years to shake hands with an ex-president, and then two come along at once! Pictured above, Martin Burt with former US President Jimmy Carter at the 2008 Skoll World Forum.

Recognizing Commitment: Clinton Highlights Education That Pays for Itself

It’s an honour for any organization to be invited to the Clinton Global Initative in New York – but an even greater one to be handed the platform by Bill Clinton himself.

The Clinton Global Initative (CGI) was founded in 2005 to turn ideas into action - bringing together some of the world’s leading businesses, politicians, thinkers, and social entrepreneurs to partner on commitments for solving some of the most important issues facing the world today.

It was therefore with great pride earlier this month that Teach A Man To Fish Executive Director Martin Burt was asked to speak at the CGI mid-year meeting, highlighting our commitment to support Education That Pays For Itself in fifty schools across the developing world over the next ten years.

It’s a huge challenge, but one which we’re looking forward to meeting - watch this space!

To f ind out more about the CGI commitment which we're a part of, click here. For a full run down of the event, click here.

News in Brief:

Cheque Handover - Teach A Man To FishSaab Zero: Sponsored Insanity
It’s fantastic just how far some people will go to help disadvantaged kids get an education – Latvia for a start. But just raising money by driving a long way would be too easy, far more interesting to get your friends to set you challenges along the way. Not everyone’s friends however would demand you dress up as a ballerina in the freezing cold to be pulled along on skis behind a car!

Congratulations to Imogen Wall & Rob Swinburn for making it home in one piece, and raising over $5,000 to support Teach A Man To Fish projects in Africa. And just in case you’re intrigued to see how it went, the ballerina ski video is online at YouTube, here (Warning: video contains occasional bad language - Ed.).

Royal Parks Half MarathonIn The Running: A Truly Marathon Effort
We like a bit of regular exercise here at Teach A Man To Fish, but we’re ready to admit we can’t compete with some of our supporters. Star of the month is Eamon O’Loinsigh who’ll be running the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of May to raise funds for our work with schools in Kenya. If just the thought of it makes you tired, you can still make a difference without even leaving your armchair by sponsoring him at  http://www.mycharitypage.com/EamonOLoinsigh/

And if you’d prefer to be in the running yourself, we’ve still got a place or two left for supporters interested in the Royal Parks Half Marathon taking place in London this October. For more info on the event visit http://www.royalparkshalf.com. To secure your Teach A Man To Fish charity place email info@teachamantofish.org.uk now!

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