“We agree that quality in education is the right of every child, regardless of gender, and that every child should have equal access to education that places the child at the center of all learning.” Co-founder Ann Marie Thomson sums up what education means to us.
In a recent letter, Ann Marie writes of our educational values and how they relate to the structuring of our program. “We see children and the environments in which they live as integrally related. That is why the first step in our process curriculum deliberately focuses on trust-building— listening, observing, gathering information, and sitting with community members and children, learning what matters to them and how they feel about their community life… children are the greatest asset any community has; investment in the education of children is the most sustainable way to bring about long-term positive social change.” Our program offers platforms for students, but the students are the ones who create real change.
Ann Marie also highlights a few key aspects of our curriculum and how it creates quality education in DR Congo. First, we focus on experiential learning, engaging, rather than just lecturing. Authentic learning and student engagement are integral for the success of any student. We also value higher level critical thinking and life skills that students can use and apply to situations in their communities and at home. Students often formulate and lead projects in the community, reinforcing what they have learned while also tackling community issues, such as water and waste management. Read more about these service learning projects!
Additionally, intensive teacher training ensures the best learning time for both our staff and students; it also ensures that students can learn in a safe classroom. Education is linked explicitly to environment, as Ann Marie writes, and safety and comfort are a huge part of that. We take the time to make sure that teachers and students both are comfortable in the classroom by training teachers in trust-building and having them put themselves in the shoes of their students.
Lastly, evaluation and reflection and forming partnerships are vital, sustainable practices for us. The only way to assess impact, gather feedback, and anticipate next steps is through introspection and serious evaluation and reflection of ourselves and our program, and evaluation from the teachers, students, and community. Moreover, partnerships with other organizations help us to expand our efforts and those of the other area nonprofits, as well as provide the community with means to meet its other basic needs apart from education, such as clean water and healthcare.
Our educational philosophy is continually revisited, refined, and ignited with educational action. As we do this, we invite you to partner with us, too.