Time to reflect on my teaching over the past few weeks and I must day I have loved Tuesdays teaching world development to first years and globalisation to second years. The world development sessions have been particularly inspiring as now with the three hour slot I have the flexibility to run the module as I like and have set it up so that students have been split up into three groups and lead a seminar on one of the key topics relating to the Millennium Development Goals – education, gender or health. This year the two hour lecture takes place the week before and then we start of the following week with student presentations and discussion – and this set up has ally worked. Each week I have walked out of the seminars enthused about the lecture I am about to give and impressed by the level of thought and research the students have put into the sessions, developing quizzes, presentations, finding excellent short videos to support their points and leading the discussion between their fellow students – I have literally not had to intervene at all – which is the way it should be. In addition to that I’ve learnt knew things and have been recommending the things that they have shared to other students in other modules – so all in all win win all round! I’m now really looking forward to reading their reports when they come in and continuing to teach aid trade and debt on this module – nice to have a week of no teaching next week though to reflect and catch up on research – so watch this pace for more posts relating to research and Nepal !
Student led debate on if gender matters as a MDG
Participating in the the IAU workshop on Higher Education Institutions and Education for All was a real honour. A number of speakers spoke about the importance of Universities engaging in the EFA agenda and supporting the work being done by the many developments agencies and community organisations to help Nepal reach the MDG set for 2015. The workshop element divided the participants into three groups to consider the different issues and explore how universities should be working in the field of research, teaching & learning and finally how and who they should be engaging with in the community.
Some of the most interesting issues were raised in the question and answer sessions such as the importance of having local teachers in schools in Nepal and the need to have mother tongue support available, especially in the early years of education. My experience of education in Sikles has shown me the importance of having a mix of local and non local teachers as well as a mix of both male and female teachers to create a positive environment for students to learn in.
One of my key passions is the need for education to be child friendly and the curriculum to have value to the young people within the education system. I had the opportunity to share the fantastic Better Classrooms Better Learning book with many of the people there and for anyone who wants to know more about this please contact B K Shreshtra at Global Action Nepal.
One of the key issues to emerge from the workshop was that education needs to be of high quality and develop young people as active social citizens with skills they can use in the workplace – the system as it stands is churning out students who can remember facts but lack the skills needed to get a job! An example provided by Howard Green from Pahar Trust made this point to me the previous night when he said he had travelled all over Nepal and heard so many children say they wanted to be a doctor or a nurse or lawyer …. But without plumbers, electricians and builders where would the doctors do their work, how can they operate when there is no electricity – and my own example who will fix all the broken toilets !
My most noteworthy input to the debate was in the University and Community dialogue session where I was surprised to see that previous participants had highlighted young women as the most important target audience we should be working with but young men had not been included. First of all the whole question about who Universities should be engaging with is a nonsense as in each community the needs will be different and all universities should take a ground up approach and seek advice from those with whom they wish to meet- you can not divide communities up this was as they are complex and changing and unique – I would argue that staff and students from Universities need to go to the communities to learn from them rather than to teach and to listen to local people rather than lecture them …. that aside to target young women and not young men makes no sense at all and led to a hot debate about why young men are not targeted by universities and indeed by the development establishment at large.
My basic point was that if we only work with and empower young women then where does this leave the men – we need to work with young men to change their attitudes toward the opposite sex which leads to the high levels of exclusion and harassment that is experienced, not only in Nepal but in many many societies today. Until all men respect young and old women alike and consider them to be their own mothers, sisters or daughters, we will remain living in a society where the harassment of young women is seen as being acceptable. RESPECT is what we should be promoting both between men and women – young and old – educated and non educated – and between all different ethnic and indigenous groups – once we have this then we will have really achieved something worth sharing.
I think I made my point and young men were added to the priority list – looking forward to seeing the action plan that results.
See next post for a poll on MDGs and EFA……