Quality Education for Sustainable Development
Brad Brasseur is a Canadian humanitarian, writer and world traveler with a passion for promoting quality education for the poor. He has worked on several education initiatives in the world, including extended time in Peru and in several schools in Ukraine.
Brad tweets at @brbrasseur
Q1. What inspires your work?
I am inspired from witnessing firsthand from traveling across countless developing countries the poverty that so many humans experience around the world. It is a complete indignity that so few people can be so wealthy and so many can be so poor. From my experience, raising awareness on the importance of improving the quality of education all over the world may be the most important solution to helping the poor.
Q2. What does quality education mean for the Global South?
A quality education is the most important single tool for the billions of poor people in the global south to overcome poverty. Education can empower the poor and give them something that they can pass onto their children, as they can become teachers with the knowledge they gain. Plus, if a country can considerably improve their people’s education it will grow their economy, leading to greater opportunities for their citizens. Foremost education must be good quality, so that people can actually learn something valuable, as a bad education fails to empower anyone or give people the proper skills to succeed.
Q3. At what point can a country say it has achieved quality education?
A country cannot stake this claim until every region of that country, including the most isolated parts can offer all their people a free education with an adequate curriculum and properly trained teachers. A major challenge for poorer countries is supplying the people in the isolated rural areas an equal opportunity to quality education as urban places.
Q4. How can we promote accessibility and universality of quality education?
An ongoing serious problem is making sure that girls have equal access to the same education as boys. Today according to UNESCO, 66% of the over 880 million children in the world that are out of school are girls. This means that we need to drastically increase female attendance in these countries, in order to make sure that both genders have equal access.
People wanting to promote accessibility and universality of quality education for all genders can raise awareness through public events, social media, visiting an NGO or writing articles. There are a lot of wealthy people that want to donate money to worthy causes and just need to learn about legitimate honest education charities helping the poor.
Q5. How can we link formal and informal ways of knowing as part of the education system, taking into account existing traditions and culture?
It is vital especially in isolated rural areas in the global south, where local cultures dominate the way of thinking that we include their informal education methods. We can mix these informal methods with new formal methods that result from 21st century technology that is becoming cheaper, such as cell phones and economical computers with expanding Internet access from projects, such as Google Loon.
Q6. Who should be responsible for developing curricula for schools in the Global South?
Obviously the national government needs to take on a large responsibility but even more importantly they need to embrace input from local people on what is vital to include in the curriculum. This does not mean they should have complete curriculum freedom but rather should have a significant part in adapting it to their region. In some countries faulty curriculum exists because at some point in history they were forced to learn a foreign curriculum from their colonizer and it never changed when the country became independent.
Q7. How would such a process ensure that a curriculum captures the needs of a country in totality?
A national government should not simply dictate a ’blanket’ curriculum, where one set curriculum covers the entire country. They actually should take into account the important things to learn in each region, which can depend on cultures, local languages and what jobs are available. A country like Peru is a good example that needs a modified curriculum, as each region is so diverse with different geography, job opportunities and so many different ethnic groups including: the Quechuas, Aymaras, Mestizos, Asian and Afro Peruvians.
Q8. In what ways can student-generated innovations be nurtured and used to address local challenges
Well, it does not matter if the innovation is student generated, by teachers, parents or governments, as any kind of innovation from any age group for local challenges can be effective in addressing challenges in education system. We can use the expanded resources that we have with modern technology and the increasing presence of NGOs and charities to create these innovated ideas to help foster and tackle local challenges.
Q9. What challenges can we expect as we work towards quality education under SDG4 and how can they be addressed?
The main challenge will be making sure that developing world governments spend more of their own money and invest more international aid into their country’s education sector. Unfortunately, successfully combating the billions of dollars that are lost to corruption each year in the developing world is an ongoing problem. To be blunt, many of the greedy elites have become rich by making sure the poor do not become educated and threaten their wealthy lives. However, I believe that there is room for everyone to have enough money to be happy but greed will always be a major obstacle in improving quality of education in the developing world.
Q10. Last words to the young people out there
No matter how much you may dislike formal education and going to school, if you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity, then you should aim for the highest level of education that you can personally achieve. I would encourage the young people, who come from a privileged upbringing with good education to promote improving quality education for the poor, as you can help make a difference for your generation. For the less fortunate young people out there, I would encourage you to fight for your right for education as it is the most important tool to living a prosperous, and healthy life.