Education

Complexity and Simplicity: Avoiding the ‘Too Simple’

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Alan C. Kay
Image via Wikipedia

The problem with ‘poverty porn’ is not that it is actually ‘porn’. If that were the case it would be the most appalling failure of care meaning that aid agencies would be distributing inappropriate pictures of the vulnerable in order to pull heart-strings to make money.

So what is the problem with ‘poverty porn’? I think Alan Kay, with his brilliant scientific mind, presents this idea clearly in this TED Talk A Powerful Idea About Teaching Ideas. He is not talking about poverty, he is talking about how we might better educate young minds.

When we reduce the complex to an over-simplified explanation it is just as unhelpful as making it unnecessarily over-complex. Much of the discourse of reduction of extreme poverty has been reduced to sound bites that make a good pitch for fund raising events. Einstein said:

Things should be a simple as possible, but not simpler.

Thinking like a child is an important skill that Kay presents as benefitting understanding. Creating a pictorial petition through the 10 City Bridge Run of 24,000 images using the human bridges people themselves capture on photograph is an attempt to present our ability to intervene into poverty into a pragmatic and meaningful form. Please join us on this journey.

Children are the future we send to the future… Children need mentors.

6 Days to Go. 8 MDG: MDG 3- Promote Gender Equity and Empower Women

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Young women in preparing manioc bread or Fufu....
Young women in preparing manioc bread

Spotlight on gender equity and empowerment of women today.

Yesterday, my good friend Tiffany sent me through a video The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking. Worth a look- go on, check it out and I will wait here until you return.

So how was it?

In the Millennium Development Goal (MDG), the United Nations (UN) have set a target to Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015. From the video and thinking about this, already the symbiotic relationship between these MDG should be more clear. These are not stand alone stove-piped objectives.

So why should I care? This year I am also an Ambassador for the White Ribbon Foundation which looks at Australian men stepping up to end violence against women. Earlier this year, another friend of mine April, informed me about the atrocious prevalence of rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DROC). Rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war and control. Statistics so high that they top the world. Nothing to boast about.

As an Ambassador of the White Ribbon Foundation, I would hope that these statistics are seen as ugly as they are, and that through this we men can reflect this back into our own communities and behaviours. If it is not ok for us to put up with violence against women here in Australia, why should it be any different in DROC? We should be outraged!

Back to what the UN have to say about this MDG 3:

  • For girls in some regions, education remains elusive
  • Poverty is a major barrier to education, especially among older girls
  • In every developing region except the Commonwealth of Independent States, men outnumber women in paid employment
  • Women are largely relegated to more vulnerable forms of employment
  • Women are over-represented in informal employment, with its lack of benefits and security
  • Top-level jobs still go to men — to an overwhelming degree
  • Women are slowly rising to political power, but mainly when boosted by quotas and other special measures

So what should we make of this? It would seem that there is an opportunity to advance this forward through much of the excellent advocacy and game changing approaches through microfinance groups by organisations like the IWDA.

The video presents an opportunity. Can we harness this? And when will we consider those women and girls subjected to appalling conditions of rape and sexual violence as neighbours within our broader global village, the global ‘dongnae’ (Korean for village)?

Please consider sponsoring the 10 City Bridge Run. Please sponsor $24 to make this journey possible.

The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking

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My friend Tiffany sent me a wonderful link from The Girl Effect called The Clock is Ticking.

Watch it for yourself- it is its own explanation.

Tomorrow I will put focus on Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015 . Let’s see what the assessment is from the United Nations on MDG 3. So far the scorecard looking at MDG 1 and 2 is not good for a complete successful achievement of the MDG.

This is why a focus on child mortality and women is so important. So many other factors are woven into the same solution. Hans Rosling explains this indirectly in this TED video in an earlier blog I recorded here.

The most productive 50 million ways to influence extreme poverty are primed ready to be enlisted in the fight. It is a resource and an opportunity that won’t stand still- it sits on a knife edge of time to be saved or exploited by the environment. Is there anything we can do to influence this situation?

7 Days to Go: 8 MDG. MDG 2- Children everywhere able to complete primary schooling

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Eritrean women
Eritrean women

Spotlight onto Millennium Development Goal 2 today:

Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

The United Nations provides sobering advice about the likely success of this goal:

  • Hope dims for universal education by 2015, even as many poor countries make tremendous strides
  • Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia are home to the vast majority of children out of school
  • Inequality thwarts progress towards universal education

Some of the broader metrics are presented here:

  • Enrolment in primary education in developing regions reached 89 per cent in 2008, up from 83 per cent in 2000
  • The current pace of progress is insufficient to meet the target by 2015
  • About 69 million school-age children are not in school. Almost half of them (31 million) are in sub-Saharan Africa, and more than a quarter (18 million) are in Southern Asia.

Education is something so many of us just take for granted. It seems so simple. And the reality is that it can be a tough decision if the money available does not extend far enough to educate your children. Abolishing school fees in some of the poorest countries has made a big difference. Significant and important gender issues are being addressed through tackling this goal.