In the News
In celebration of International Day of the Girl, the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) Education team organized a series of community events to showcase the great academic achievements of girls, and also to spread awareness in the community for the importance of girls' education. Activities of the day included:
This activity was conducted to sensitize mothers in the community on the importance of girls’ education. Two female lecturers from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria were invited to facilitate the discussion during the forum. Attendees included 423 mothers from various settlements, village heads and religious leaders as well as the MVP and district officials.
A short drama was presented by the female students from Pampaida and Saulawa Secondary Schools highlighting the importance of girls’ education.
There was a debate between boys and girls on why both female and male doctors are important. At the end of the debate, the girls who defended a motion on the importance of female doctors won the debate.
There was a quiz competition on core secondary subjects (English, Mathematics, Social Studies and Integrated Science) among the CTL scholars.
There were also speeches from individuals delivered at the occasion on the importance of girls’ education. Notable among the speakers were the Project Team Leader, the Education Secretary of the Ikara Local Government Authority and the Principal Saulawa Secondary School.
Prizes and awards were finally presented to the winners of the debate, quiz competition and female students identified by the schools’ heads as having outstanding academic performance and attendance.
Last week, on October 11th, girls and boys, women and men across the globe came together to celebrate International Day of the Girl, a day dedicated to raising awareness for issues relating to gender inequality. In honor of this day, CTL Scholars in Mayange, Rwanda and their facilitators/teachers organized an event to encourage their peers who have dropped out of school to return and complete their secondary education. The event involved several of the CTL Scholars visiting the homes of two girls who had recently dropped out of school because their (single) mothers could not support them with the school supplies necessary for attending school.
To overcome this barrier, the Scholars came prepared with book bags, shoes for the girls' uniforms, exercise books and pencils, soap, and other items. The girls and their mothers were thrilled to receive these items. After presenting the girls with the supplies, the girls enjoyed playing ball together while the CTL Facilitators spoke with the mothers. By the end of the two visits, the girls and their mothers had confirmed that the girls would return to school at the start of the new school year in January. The CTL Scholars and their Facilitators plan to check in with the girls in the interim to ensure that they follow through.
When the Scholars returned after their visits, they joined their Facilitators and parents for a workshop focused on exploring child rights, including the right to an education, and discussing challenges in their community that lead to school dropout. After brainstorming possible solutions to this challenge, the parents decided to start a cooperative savings effort whereby the parents who are able will contribute 100 Rwandan Francs to a fund that can be accessed in cases where a child is faced with dropout due to her or his family's lack of funds.
Each year of additional schooling can add 10 percent to a girl's future earnings. UNESCO estimates that in Africa, 1.8 million children's lives could be saved if their mothers had at least a secondary education. With the recent news of Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize, it is clear that the time is now to ensure all girls have a chance to receive a quality education, and that the voices of girls from Rwanda to Pakistan and across the world can make it happen. CTL is proud of these efforts made by the CTL Scholars and their communities, and looks forward to continuing to provide support to help ensure that these community-driven solutions are implemented successfully so that all girls can complete their secondary education.
Over 500,000 people in 14 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have benefited from mobile connectivity improving access to healthcare, education and livelihoods
40,000 students around the world have received access to quality education resources through Connect To Learn, enabled by Ericsson's cloud-based solution deployed in schools
Ericsson was recognized for "Connecting the Unconnected" by Telecoms.com in their 2014 Industry Awards for the company's involvement in the Millennium Villages Project and Connect To Learn initiative.
At the awards ceremony, Ericsson was given special mention for the part it has played towards improving access to healthcare, education and livelihoods through use of technology and the expertise of its employees.
Ericsson is the lead technology partner in the Millennium Villages Project and works with the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Millennium Promise, the organizations that run the integrated development project throughout Africa. Since Ericsson became part of the initiative in 2007, more than 500,000 people in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have benefitted from mobile connectivity.
Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Ericsson's VP Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, said of the achievement:"Affordable and accessible mobile broadband can help break the cycle of poverty for millions of people around the world. The Millennium Villages project is a long term commitment for us, and we have seen the transformation over time that mobile brings to even the most remote parts of Africa. We are honored to be recognized for the work we have done with our partners."
Through Connect To Learn - a global education initiative led by Columbia University with Millennium Promise, Ericsson combines mobility, broadband and cloud services to promote access to and quality of secondary-school education, with a focus on ensuring that girls complete their full education. The public-private partnership also provides scholarships for girls in the Millennium Villages Project secondary schools. In three years, 40,000 students have received access to quality educational resources enabled by the cloud based ICT solution deployed. Ericsson also contributes the technical expertise of its employees to support this initiative.
Connect To Learn is honored to have been featured at a World Economic Forum event in Davos, Switzerland last week. Headlined as "Scaling Up Success: Investing in Girl Empowerment for MDG Acceleration" and hosted by the UN Secretary General and the UN Foundation, the event brought together cross-sector global leaders to focus on the importance of investment in adolescent girls as a key to ending poverty and accelerating progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The discussion, viewable at right, highlighted smart initiatives and creative partnerships to mobilize and scale investments in girls.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "This is more than a philanthropic issue. This is a challenge to do business better. It is a chance to change institutions so they reflect more enlightened attitudes about girls and include strategies to improve their lives."
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and Hans Vestberg, Ericsson President & CEO, participated and debuted a new Connect To Learn video at the event, joining UN Foundation President & CEO, Kathy Calvin and speakers including H.E. Mr. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, H.E. Ms. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, Tina Brown, President of Tina Brown Live Media, and HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, First Lady of Qatar.
Connect To Learn's short new video, also accessible directly below, features our work being carried out across Africa as an example of the tremendous breakthroughs possible when young girls get the opportunity to attend secondary school. It introduces CTL scholarship beneficiaries and their teachers in Ghana, including one of our first graduates, Ramatu Seidu, who is now working as a Community Health Worker in her home village. They share how the opportunity of secondary schooling is giving them the ability to pursue their dreams, serve as role models to younger girls, and contribute to their communities and national economies.
An expanding body of research tells us that educating and empowering adolescent girls and promoting the rights of girls and women results in life-changing benefits for families, communities, and countries, among them healthier children and families, higher personal incomes, and economic growth.
By providing girls with access to secondary schooling through scholarships and, in tandem, equipping the schools they attend with technology-enabled access to information and learning resources, Connect To Learn is forging practical solutions to help shape the future of learning as an important key to ending global poverty. With latest figures indicating that mobile broadband subscriptions will exceed 9.3 billion by 2019, students and teachers with a mobile device anywhere—even in the most remote and impoverished villages of the world—can access information on every imaginable subject.
Connect To Learn's lead technology partner, Ericsson, and a host of other contributing partners such as Spin Master Toys, the Sanchez-Palm Girls Scholarship Fund, JM Eagle, John Legend's Show Me Campaign, Raising Malawi and WNBA star Tina Charles, and Author/Actor Jamie Lee Curtis, plus many more organizations and individuals are helping to enable access to learning for thousands of girls and their male peers in resource-deprived communities around the world.
Of 12 Connect To Learn program sites now located across 10 countries in Africa, the Bonsaaso community in Ghana is one of Connect To Learn's first scholarship program sites launched in late 2010, and was one of the first ICT installations completed in cooperation with Ericsson, Connect To Learn's chief technology partner, in early 2011. Since that time, additional computers and equipment upgrades have been provided and several intensive teacher training and professional development courses have been conducted at the two schools in this Millennium Village Project site. Bonsaaso is located in the Amansie-West District of the Ashanti Region of Ghana. It is a hot and humid tropical region where villages are spread out and separated from one another by thick rainforest. Across two Millennium Village Project sites now present in Ghana, Connect To Learn has provided 100 students with three-year secondary school scholarships and 94 of them are girls. Thousands more girls and boys and their teachers are served in the schools where CTL Scholars are enrolled through the ICT investments made by Connect To Learn partners.
Jamie Lee Curtis— actor, author, and committed activist for children—has teamed up with Connect To Learn to advocate for the education of girls and all young people globally. In a new animated video, she lends her powerful voice to share Connect To Learn’s mission.
Connect To Learn has produced and released this fundraising and awareness-building animated video for its’ end-of-year campaign, raising funds for multiple new girls’ scholarships in the new year. Connect To learn Director, Kara Nichols, recruited the pro-bono support of actor/author/advocate Jamie Lee Curtis to record the narration, music producer CJ Vanston to produce original music for the video, and west coast design firm, XPLANE, for illustration and scripting support. The video can be viewed and shared at connecttolearn.org/audacious-proposal.
Education is an essential human right and a key to ending poverty. Evidence is piling up that investing in education and quality learning, especially for girls, can have dramatic effects in every nation. Yet around the world, there are 69 million adolescents who are not enrolled in school. More than half of them are girls, and of the 774 million illiterate adults in the world, nearly 64% of them are women.
Connect To learn urges supporters to use this video as a tool for raising our voices and our commitment to ensuring that all children across the world have access to a quality education.
Findings from the Earth Institute’s one-year collaborative action research study in conjunction with Columbia University Teachers College, University of Nairobi, and Kampala University showed significant potential for improved teaching and learning with Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) when the technology strategy is appropriately designed for its intended environment and adequately supported with infrastructure and ongoing professional development for teachers.
Partnering university faculty and secondary school teachers working in close collaboration at four rural schools in Kenya and Uganda, investigators worked for one year to understand the effects, opportunities and challenges of integrating ICT into schools and teaching routines.
Interviews, training workshops, surveys and observations conducted indicate significant improvements in teaching and learning when ICT tools and resources are well-designed with the school infrastructure and environment in mind, and when teachers are provided with thorough training and professional development in how to optimize these resources in their classrooms.
Research findings show that over the course of the year, guided use, training and professional development workshops offered essential support for teachers focusing on using ICT in their classrooms. There were significant increases both in teachers’ reported skill and comfort with using ICT for educational purposes, as well as in the observed use of ICT in their classrooms. For example, where only 21% of teachers considered themselves to be “advanced” users of ICT at the beginning of the project, by the end, 45% of teachers were reporting themselves to be advanced users. There was also an 18% increase in reported use of ICT in the classroom over the course of the project.
Researchers compiled recommendations in several categories, including:
- Physical infrastructure, calling for policies for open access to hardware, electrical outlets throughout all classrooms and security;
- ICT infrastructure, where Wi-Fi networks, adequate airtime, and computers and projectors are basic needs;
- Teacher pedagogical skills and knowledge development along with basic ICT training, where professional development should be facilitated in partnership with local universities or Non-Governmental Organizations, among other steps;
- Open source t
eaching and learning resources, including use of Connect To Learn’s online resource library and expanding the availability of locally relevant online resources;
- Student ICT participation and knowledge, which encourages teachers to assign online research and computer-basedprojects; and
- Public-Private partnership implementation, urging each site to hire local facilitators to provide ongoing support to administrators and teachers, and forging partnerships with local decision-makers and telecommunications industry leaders to institutionalize the integration of ICT at all levels of education.
Professor Jeffery Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, said: "Education is at the very core of economic development and a key to ending poverty. In the world economy today, every nation’s success depends on the education of its people, ICT will increasingly be at the center of the education process. ICT offers new and creative ways to combine classroom experience, home learning, global outreach, and connectivity of students and teachers to the burgeoning network of online learning now accessible throughout the world. Classrooms everywhere, from primary schools to higher education, will be dramatically transformed in exciting and enriching ways.
"Effectively integrating technology into teaching practices in resource-poor settings requires bringing many key elements together to enable ICT to fulfill its great potential for improving student learning outcomes,” continued Sachs. "Reliable connectivity, a consistent energy supply, and teacher training are among the key elements for getting started. Designing new curricula that combine online and classroom learning is another high priority. Through broad-based investment and dynamic partnerships with the telecommunications leaders of the world, there is a huge and thrilling opportunity at hand."
“It's been thrilling to enable and track the teachers’ embrace of ICT to bolster their teaching practices through the course of this collaborative research,” said Connect To Learn Executive Director, Kara Nichols. “The possibilities are enormous to bring a world of information and learning resources into our remote rural schools through broadband connectivity. I commend our university partners and local teachers for their extraordinary commitment to this important work, and I’m deeply grateful to Ericsson for making the study possible with funding and technical support. It is my hope that public and private partners will join us to replicate and scale this work across schools in all Connect To Learn sites across Africa and globally.”
Says Dr. Ronald Semyalo, Director of Research from Kampala University and Lead Researcher in the study “A major obstacle to the overall improvement of Uganda’s educational system is a lack of a comprehensive education policy regarding ICT. There is a definite need for training in ICT. A well-informed curriculum is required to train a new crop of teachers with the ability to improve the ICT proficiency of secondary school students. Such a curriculum would also provide critical information to the development of a general educational policy for the country.”
Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson, said: “A world where all girls and boys have access to secondary schooling and all teachers and students are connected to quality learning resources through internet access is the vision on which Connect To Learn was founded. In the 21st century, mobile broadband means that access to quality education should no longer be an obstacle – it is increasingly possible to deliver this fundamental human right.”
The ICT in Education Study was designed, commissioned and managed by the Connect To Learn team, based at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Millennium Promise. The study was conducted with funding and technical support from Ericsson.
The Show Me Campaign (SMC), an organization founded by nine-time Grammy award-winning artist and philanthropist John Legend, announced today that it will fund 10 Connect To Learn girls’ scholarships in Sauri, Kenya. The Show Me Campaign works to break the cycle of poverty through education.
Connect To Learn scholarships fund the tuition and books, living expenses, school supplies and medical expenses for four years of secondary school per student and help ensure that each girl can focus on her academic career, rather than the financial burden of her education.
Mr. Legend explains his motivation for supporting the project: “Ever since my first trip to Africa, I’ve been convinced of the power of education to break their poverty cycle. When I learned about how many fewer girls have the opportunity to pursue education, I knew I had to do something. I’m pleased to announce the first of what we hope will be many girls’ scholarships”.
There are 67 million young people worldwide who remain out of school, and 60% of them are girls. Secondary education equips students with critical thinking skills, enabling civic participation and democratic change. The impact of girls’ secondary and higher education is linked directly to a decrease in child brides, lower fertility rates and healthier children among educated women.
Rose, a student in Ghana who previously received a scholarship funded by The Show Me Campaign, reflects on the value of her education: “This gift is a big opportunity for me, since I want to achieve education to its highest level in life.”
Professor Jeff Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, went on to say: "Connect To Learn is committed to ensuring that all young people — boys and girls — can complete a secondary education, knowing that this is the path to ending poverty, ensuring prosperity, and creating a more peaceful and sustainable planet. We are deeply grateful and honored to work with John Legend and his Show Me Campaign to bring more girls into school.”
About the Show Me Campaign
Created by nine-time Grammy award-winning artist John Legend, the Show Me Campaign is a nonprofit organization that fights poverty using proven solutions that give people the opportunity to survive, thrive, and succeed. Believing that equal access to quality education is the civil rights issue of our time, the Show Me Campaign works to ensure that every child has access to a quality education in the United States. In Africa, Show Me has worked with Millennium Promise to provide clean water, health care, education and other basic tools that break the cycle of poverty.
- Increase access to ICTs and broadband, particularly for women and marginalized groups
- Incorporate ICTs into job training and continuing education to support 21st century skills
- Teach ICT skills and digital literacy to all educators and learners
- Promote mobile learning and open educational resources available online
- Support the development of content adapted to local contexts and languages
- Work to bridge the digital divide among and within countries
Two Secondary Schools to Benefit from 90 Girls' Scholarships, 50 Netbook Computers, and Internet Connectivity
Connect To Learn has launched in Léona, Senegal with the announcement of 90 multi-year secondary school scholarships for 90 girls and the installation of 50 netbook computers supported by broadband connectivity for two secondary schools in the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) site in Léona. The launch at the Collège d’Enseignement Moyen was attended by MVP staff, students, teachers, parents, administrative authorities, education officials, and representatives of Ericsson and Tigo, two of the organizations supporting the effort.
Connect To Learn is a partnership between the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Ericsson and Millennium Promise. As part of its contributions as chief technology partner for the initiative Ericsson has donated the 50 mobile broadband enabled computers and two video projectors. Tigo, the cell phone service provider that has joined the initiative in Senegal, is providing free Internet service that allows the netbooks to connect to the Internet through Tigo’s mobile phone network.
Connect To Learn implements mobile broadband technology to connect classrooms to a 21st century education by enabling access to vital teaching and learning resources. The computers and connectivity contributed by the program’s technology partners will also allow teachers to improve their skills and knowledge and therefore the quality of secondary education in the schools where they work.
Through funds raised by Connect To Learn from individual and corporate donors, the program has also announced that they will offer multi-year scholarships this year for 90 young women to enroll in these schools. Girls eligible are MVP residents who have achieved academic excellence and whose families are unable to sustainably fund their education at the secondary level.
“Earlier this year when I visited Léona it was an honor to meet with a group of mothers of secondary school age girls who were expressing the importance they placed on their daughters’ education,” said Connect To Learn Executive Director Kara Nichols. “On behalf of Connect To Learn donors and partners I am delighted to be working with the local education officials, headmasters, Millennium Villages Project site team, Ericsson and Tigo to make these investments in enabling access to information, teaching and learning resources for everyone in these schools, and supporting access to secondary schooling for girls in this community. Our goal is to utilize the power of broadband connectivity as a powerful enabler for learning among girls, boys and teachers alike.”
“Increasing the effectiveness of the education system to achieve quality education for all is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals,” said Omar Diouf, Regional Operations Manager for Millennium Promise for West and Central Africa, in his remarks at the launch. “It is also an international commitment made by the Millennium Villages Project as well as the state of Senegal.”
Robert Reading, the Director-General of Ericsson in Senegal, described the company’s ongoing engagement in Senegal, and noted that the Connect To Learn model for bringing technology to schools offers low-cost maintenance, software updates, and virus protection for the computers.
Lamine Sarr, academic inspector for the Ministry of Education in the Louga region, noted the strong results earned by students in the secondary schools in Léona and Potou on the most recent exams, and said he expected the new program would allow the schools to continue to raise the level of academic excellence.
About Connect To Learn
Connect To Learn is a non-profit initiative launched in 2010 by The Earth Institute at Columbia University as scientific advisor, Ericsson as lead ICT partner, and Millennium Promise as
implementing partner. A growing portfolio of other organizations and individuals around the world are now providing vital contributions. Connect To Learn was designed as a public/private partnership to promote access to a 21st Century secondary education for everyone with a special emphasis on girls. The initiative’s gender focus addresses the challenges girls face in completing their education globally, despite the enormous economic and societal benefits gender parity in education enables. Connect To Learn aims to propagate practical solutions to ensure that people worldwide have access to education, providing secondary school scholarships and other support to keep girls in school, and implementing mobile broadband connectivity in the schools they attend to improve access to teaching and learning resources not only for them, but for their teachers and fellow students. By early 2013, Connect To Learn will have enrolled at least 714 adolescents in secondary school on its multi-year scholarships, and will have implemented its cloud computing system for education in at least 25 schools across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa - Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania & Uganda - as well as Djibouti, Chile, Brazil and India. For more information, please go to www.connecttolearn.org
About the Millennium Villages Project
The Millennium Villages are proving that by fighting poverty at the village level through community-led development, rural Africa can achieve the Millennium Development Goals—global targets for reducing extreme poverty and hunger by half and improving education, health, gender equality, and environmental sustainability— by 2015, and escape the extreme poverty that traps hundreds of millions of people throughout the continent. Simple solutions such as providing highyield seeds, fertilizers, medicines, drinking wells, and materials to build classrooms and clinics are effectively combating extreme poverty and nourishing communities into a new age of health and opportunity. Improved science and technology such as agroforestry, insecticide-treated bed nets, antiretroviral drugs, the Internet, remote sensing, and geographic information systems enriches this progress. To learn more, please visit www.millenniumvillages.org.
Students in Kristen Ball’s fifth grade class at New Canaan Country School (NCCS) created their very own global classroom on Monday, Sept. 24, connecting through a one-hour video Skype session with students from Ilolangulu School in Mbola, Tanzania, as part of the School-To-School Connections partnership program facilitated by the Connect to Learn initiative at Millennium Promise.
The students sat eagerly on the edge of their chairs as the computer loaded up images of their friends in Tanzania. This is the third time the classrooms have connected over the last year in an ongoing partnership. The topic of Monday’s lesson was “community.” The classes shared their thoughts on the definition of “community” and what it means in each of their countries, taking turns standing up and reading excerpts from prepared essays, asking questions, clapping, laughing and nodding their heads.
They also talked about the similarities and differences in the types of activities that take place in each of their communities. Students in Mbola brought harvesting tools and crops such as maize and groundnuts to show the NCCS students. One student shared her drawing of a cow, a goat and a chicken. The NCCS students showed their sports equipment and asked about sports in Mbola. NCCS student Jeffry Pendo talked about his love of theater and introduced his new friends to his Muppets, holding the characters close to the computer screen so his new friends could get a good look. The classes talked about weather and climate in their regions, and the NCCS students agreed to videotape the first snow of the winter season to share with their friends.
“It was an exchange of friendship, warmth and mutual curiosity that extended school and neighborhood to begin to understand community in terms of the excitement of being together as a global community,” explained Ms. Ball. The two classes will continue their global classroom exchange, connecting via Internet monthly throughout the school year.