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Education for all

Five bloggers, five countries, one dialogue

Does less knowledge mean more comfort?

Mobile phones - literacy not required...

The recent history of education in Iraq is full of ups and downs, and illiteracy, especially for women, remains a problem.

I’d like to imagine seeing life and the world like through the eyes of an uneducated person. But I think this is much harder than imagining it through a genius’ eyes. I know so many uneducated people – the only thing they can read and understand is the clock. I wonder how they can use mobile phones…? They can use their contacts to dial, and they seem to know who is calling them! Maybe after lots of mistakes, they just figure out how to use their phones. In fact, it could even be a kind of adventure for them!

Date

June 15, 2012 | 6:45 am

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A needed reform – but poorly planned

Free education has led to more girls visiting schools

At the beginning of 2003, school fees were abolished in Kenya’s public primary and, later, secondary schools. This was implemented under the Free Primary Education (FPE) programs. Parents and Kenyans in general were thrilled. Finally a government that actually works in the interest of its public, they thought. More importantly: this meant access to education for many more who could not afford to pay the school fees. All they had to do was buy a school uniform.

Date

June 14, 2012 | 9:54 am

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Recognizing the challenges of first-generation college students

Picture: Kathrin Biegner

Two fellow activists and I worked at a stand for first-year students

Four years ago, I founded a local chapter of ArbeiterKind.de in Mainz, the city where I studied. The non-profit organization ArbeiterKind.de supports children whose parents didn’t attend university as they pursue college degrees. After I read an article about ArbeiterKind.de, I decided that I definitely had to support the organization for two reasons.

First, in the article Katja Urbatsch, the founder of ArbeiterKind.de, described the typical challenges for children of non-academic families after they finish high school. Many barriers seemed familiar to me: The insecurity about the value of studying certain subjects, like the humanities. A question I struggled with in the beginning was: Wouldn’t it be better to work and earn money immediately after high school? Later, the confusion arising from the task of writing initial academic papers was tough for me.

Date

June 13, 2012 | 2:01 pm

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Transfixed by the TV screen – to whose benefit?

Picture: Pavel Mylnikov

Let's look for ways to entertain ourselves beyond the TV set

A friend will ask me occasionally, “Have you seen the latest episode of…” – and then name some program. I usually answer, “You know, I haven’t watched TV for about 2 years.”

Strange, isn’t it? But actually it’s all quite simple: I find nothing interesting or noteworthy in the most well-known channels. When there’s anything educational, I can also easily find it in the Internet. And many in my generation do the same. It’s not that the Internet penetrates more and more into our lives – it’s that it substitutes many spheres of our lives that intelligent young people are not satisfied with. So what’s the connection with education here?

Date

June 13, 2012 | 12:53 pm

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Kathrin on Skype: “Kids should learn together longer”

Date

June 12, 2012 | 2:26 pm

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Education for all requires heroes and heroines

Picture: Emmy Chirchir

Learning to stand above difficult circumstances

Imagine: you have just managed to get to your fifth birthday. It is time to start school! You have watched the neighbours’ children gleefully skip off to school in the morning – heavy backpacks dangling from their tiny backs, shoes shiny, clothes stiff from ironing and faces gleaming with excitement. And now it is your turn. Time to finally learn the alphabet, enjoy curving out letters and numbers as you learn how to write your name. But sadly, all this remains just that – a figment of the imagination.

Date

June 12, 2012 | 12:41 pm

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Pavel on Skype: “There should be more educational opportunities in the countryside”

Date

June 11, 2012 | 12:06 pm

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Facing social problems with action (Part 2)

Picture: María Cruz

My friend Victoria (on the right)

Last time, I wrote about a co-worker and activist named Juan. Now I want to turn to my life-long friend Victoria. As I said before, she couldn’t be more different than Juan: She disagrees with the political party in charge of the administration, and sees no point in political action. She is, however, very much involved with her church community, and, in particular, with Manos a la Obra (which means ‘Shoulders to the wheel!’), a project that was started by a college preaching group in Mendoza (a province in the west of Argentina). Since 2008, it has also been held in San Isidro, the neighborhood in the Greater Buenos Aires Area where Vicky lives. The movement draws inspiration from the Christian faith, and it tries to alleviate the effects of extreme poverty.

Date

June 11, 2012 | 11:05 am

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Deficits in German music education

Picture: Kathrin Biegner

Is Germany a bit too elitist about classical music?

Hellgurd and Emmy wrote about how music is not always appreciated in Kenyan and Iraqi society. They made me think of an ironic quip from my former music teacher: “Yeah, I know, I’m only teaching a subsidiary subject of the lowest level.” But regardless of what he said, he’s a very dedicated teacher, who prepares school concerts and makes music himself.

Though I liked my teacher, I was frustrated by his music lessons. Since I didn’t play an instrument myself, my first time reading notes outside of a church service was during my music lessons with this teacher. I got the difference between high and low sounds, but defining triads?! It was all Greek to me. I guess I probably didn’t open up to his lessons and thus failed my first tests in music. I just didn’t get it. Why couldn’t we just sing a song together? Wasn’t that what music lessons were about?!

Date

June 10, 2012 | 1:49 pm

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An interview with conductor Paul MacAlindin

Picture: Hellgurd Ahmed

Conductor Paul MacAlindin and a soloist

As I promised in my last entry, I did an interview over the Internet with NYOI’s musical director Paul MacAlindin, from Scotland and now living in Cologne, Germany.

– Mr. MacAlindin, how has the NYOI’s music improved academically since the orchestra’s founding?

Date

June 9, 2012 | 6:00 pm

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