Last week I attended a professional development session by Sandy Ryan from the ATA on Building Bridges: Toward Effective Partnerships with Schools in Developing Countries. Almost daily, we can read inspiring stories in the local newspaper about projects Alberta school children are doing to increase awareness about global issues and raise money for children in other parts of the world. Last year, I worked at a school where we raised over $12,000 to build a school with Free the Children in Haiti. While I applaud the efforts of these passionate students and teachers, global citizenship is not about fundraising, it is about raising awareness and teaching children to reflect critically on the complex issues being presented to them. Moreover, it is not just a topic for social studies but something we can embed into all our subject areas. What I liked about this workshop was that it challenged us to consider the perspective of the developing country and to build partnerships based on the five principles of effective international development:
- local ownership – local perspectives are taken into consideration and communities are committed to the projects success
- donor coordination – work is not being duplicated or working against other projects in the area
- building capacity – recipient countries gain knowledge and develop skills that enable them to manage the project on their own
- monitoring and evaluating – goals and objectives are communicated up front and monitored for completion
- sustainability – the benefits of a project must be long lasting
- gender equity – men and women benefit equally
Sandy told us of one project they did where the students in Ghana and Alberta both read a book about water. The children in Ghana were shocked to find out the the average person in North America used over 55 litres of water per day so they wrote a book for their partner school to teach the students in Alberta about how to conserve water. This was just one example of how the students learned from each other.
I would encourage you to check out a few of the resources Sandy recommended:
- Alberta Education. A Guide to International School Partnerships. 2008. http://education.alberta.ca/students/internationaleducation/schooltwinnings.aspx
- Andreotti, V. and L.M. de Souza. Learning to Read the World Through Others Eyes. Derby, UK: Global Education, 2008. http://throughothereyes.org.uk
- Noddings, N (Ed.) Educating Citizens for Global Awareness. New York, NY: Penguin Publishing, 2007.
- Pike, G. and D. Selby. In the Global Classroom. Toronto, ON: Pippin Publishing Company, 1999.
By giving children an opportunity to partner with a school around the world, they learn that knowledge is worth sharing and that there is richness and beauty in other cultures.