Day 1 Reflection of Teach for All Global Conference
There is something about people coming together for a cause. That synergy revives you despite the longest hours you traveled to get to that conference! Teach for All conference is happening right now in Kathmandu and 400 educators and education activists from all over the world are in town to learn and share. The theme of the conference is ‘Community at the Center.’
At the very beginning of the day, we heard from co-founders Sishir Khanal and Swastika Shrestha about how the heart and brain of the idea of Teach for Nepal was their experience of working with the community. Teach for Nepal’s visions for the students actually came into being after deeper consultations with the community, especially parents and what parents wanted their children to have in life. This made me think about how to move ahead with Udeshya: Girls in STEM and how can Udeshya work ‘with’ the community and not just ‘for’ it. Then I attended three breakout sessions. From the very start of the day till the end I was thinking about where all of the learning fits in my work right now.
In the work that I am doing with the lifelong learning and non-formal education team in the High-Level National Education Commission in the Ministry of Education, we have been discussing the role of Community Learning Centers. We have been talking about how parent and student education is important not just to help students learn better but also to give the learning tools and skills to parents to become more equipped and engaged citizens. Similarly, we have been discussing the REFLECT approach (Frierean approach to social change) where community members are engaged from the ground up. Similarly, I am also working with ‘Campaign for Community-lead Sustainable Development’ team developing a resource book from the ground up to be used by local stakeholders who want to practice sustainable development. In addition, I have been grappling with writing a piece on my ethnography research experience in Danuwar village in Melamchi right after my fellowship: there I was an outsider trying to understand the minute aspects of the community. These experiences and learnings connect directly or indirectly with the contents of this conference.
The first session I attended was ‘ Collective reflection to grow community impact: Engaging with local constituents to drive progress for all children’. This was important because it provided a research-based tool developed by Teach for All that will help organizations assess their partnership practices or strategies with communities.
Then I went to the Girls Education lunch session where we met Samantha Williams who was also involved with the school Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. It was a privilege to be in the same room with advocates for girl education like her. In this session, I was reflecting about how community partnership is necessary for directing the community’s focus on girls.
My third session was ‘Reimagining education with students: Working with students as equal partners in driving impact.’ This was such a fun session made fun thanks to the fact that it was student led. We learned about Kids Revolution, an organization in India, that partners heavily with students to shape programs and policies in education. Its model has helped students and children become more engaged with ideas of transformation and equipped them with leadership tools. Young people especially children are the torchbearers of our future and who’d better imagine a better future for their society than these children?
Finally, we had an end-of-the-day reflection of our learning. We discussed what excites and worries us about putting the community at the center of our work.
It was a fruitful first day of the conference that made me reflect back upon my journey as a Teach for Nepal fellow and an alumna. I am thankful especially to the co-founders of Teach for Nepal Sishir dai and Swastika di for planting that seed of Teach for Nepal back in 2013 and now bringing the world back to that soil in 2018 to help nurture this sapling of education revolution growing into a wiser tree.
There’s definitely a lot to learn when people come together from different backgrounds and create that synergy that springs one into action.