If we don’t learn, we can’t change

For people to grow and move forward as a society, we must learn. We must be educated. If we don’t do this, it is inevitable for us to remain stagnant. Now, if we could afford to stay stagnant and keep things just the way they are, this wouldn’t be an issue. But just look around. Read a newspaper. Speak to anyone. You know, we know, everybody knows – we are facing a climate emergency and an ecological crisis. Fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, mass migration, civil war – it’s a slippery slope and we already sliding right the way down.

Given the publicity of this crisis is global, it is impossible to believe that there are still people in our society who refuse to either a) believe the crisis is happening or b) do anything about it. That’s not to say people don’t believe and aren’t doing things about it – there are a growing number of fighters, who want to see the change. The problem is, those who refuse to change, are actually those in power. The government holds the power to change industry. To change business. To change our ability to do damage to the environment. But low and behold, it isn’t the government who is passionately driving this change, because as far as they are concerned (and by they, I mean the House of Commons and Lords), this is largely a problem for the next generation. Cue – the next generation.

Credit: Teachthefuture.uk

Joe Brindle, a 17 year old from England, founded Teach the Future, a campaign by secondary and tertiary school launched at the end of 2019, to repurpose the education systems of the world, around the climate emergency and ecological crisis. The campaign has reached England, Scotland and is in progress for Wales and Northern Ireland, each with their own subtly different actions.

Credit: wikipedia.org

Their campaign in England is made up of 3 clear actionable points:

1. A government-commissioned review into how the whole of the English formal education system is preparing students for the climate emergency and ecological crisis.

2. Inclusion of the climate emergency and ecological crisis in teacher training and a new professional teaching qualification.

3. An English Climate Emergency Education Act

Teach The Future, UK

They believe these asks will bring about the necessary change to the education system. The belief and passion of the students who are behind this campaign is testament to the criticality of our ecological landscape, and how it must be addressed now. Brindle, and the larger team of students, are an example not only to other students, but to those who run our country – they have stepped up and spoken about what they need, demanding it and in so doing, highlighting that without it, we have a small chance of seeing a future that is close to the world we know today.

Teach the Future is by far one of the most important student led campaigns, of all time, for its vision is one that we need to survive and it ties in directly with SDG 4 Quality Education. Please check out their website and learn about the fantastic work Teach the Future has been carrying out.

Links:

Teach the Future Website: teachthefuture.uk/england

U4Society Network.

The idea of institutes of higher education actively working together is something we hear about often, yet exclusively, in specific fields of research, wherein there may be a need to collaborate based on required expertise or available facilities, but the U4Society Network takes a different approach.

U4Society Network is a European University Network of Ghent University (Belgium), University of Göttingen (Germany), University of Groningen (Netherlands), University of Tartu (Estonia), and Uppsala University (Sweden).

By just identifying themselves as partners for common goals, they set themselves apart from the majority of universities in Europe, and in the world for that matter. Further than this, through their action they promote the importance of partnership through the variety of values and principles the European universities are based on (see below for more details). These values and principles are not just for show either – they bear results. Powerful results. The network continues to produce ground breaking research and international impact through their partnership and it is inspiring to see this, as partnerships like these are what SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals really refer to.

Mission
The first aim of the partnership is to provide a supportive platform for joint cooperative initiatives in the field of educationresearch and institutional management, as well as to offer a solid framework for cooperation as preferential partners in international projects and contexts.

Vision
The ambition of the U4Society Network is to strengthen the international position and visibility of the individual partner institutions through intensive cooperation.

The U4Society Network aims to broaden the partner universities’ educational offer, facilitate and enhance the U4Society students’ international experiences, strengthen the research output, and share knowledge  and pooling resources within the field of university management.

It further seeks to provide education based on the overarching European values and principles of human rights, openness, and democracy, actively promoting universities’ rights to autonomy, academic freedom, and sustainability, as well as strongly advocating the notion of European citizens.

U4Society Network

Sustainability is certainly one of the areas that the U4 Society Network focuses on and not just because of this, but also through their colourful fruit-bearing partnership, they embody SDG 4 Quality Education and one target in particular; ensuring that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.

Another key feature, one that can often be taken for granted where it does exist, is the trust between the universities within the partnership and the open dialogue this facilitates between them. This trust is key to achieving true progress without the fear of losing out to a competitor, be it financially or as a matter of reputation. The network also prides itself on its unique governance shown in the diagram below, courtesy of the U4Society Network website. Each cluster is led by a particular university, but each institution is brought together as equals using the hub and spoke governance structure.

U4Society Network’s Governance Structure
Credit: u4network.eu

Learn more about the U4Society Network on their website and be inspired by the power of partnership!

Kytabu.

Kenyan startup, Kytabu, has changed the way students can learn in Kenya. Founder, Tonee Ndungu, has enabled teachers and students to have access to all the textbooks in the national curriculum on their mobiles or tablets. The material on the app consists of videos and audiobooks, which contrasts the typical in-house teaching methods in a more fun and engaging way.

Photo Credit: kytabu.com

You might think, “well surely this is an added expense for the less developed communities?” Well, you’d be wrong. School fees and associated costs, like up-to-date textbooks, in such communities are often too expensive for locals to continuously afford, especially in the poorer areas. Kytabu provides an affordable alternative, with all the content available to rent for the desired amount of time, on a pay as you go service.

Going further than just education material on the app, Kytabu also integrates with a school management system, Super School, which connects students’ grades and activities from Super School into the app and activities done on the app, including courses and assessments, into the Super School system. Learn more about Kytabu on their website, linked below.

Since it was launched in 2012, this groundbreaking business has significantly increased the number of children who have access to high quality education, particularly in the poorer areas of Kenya. Impact of this kind epitomises the progress required to achieve SDG 4, Quality Education, giving those who are less fortunate equality of opportunity and so, a huge thank you to Tonee Ndungu for not only challenging, but effectively changing the status quo!

Links:

Kytabu Website
kytabu.com