from October 2009 Newsletter (Volume 4, Issue 2)
The United Nations defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Development in its most general sense is any process that fosters the dignity of communities and the capacity for people to improve their own lives. Education is a key component to sustainability in this context.
Higher education is affected by a range of political, social and economic factors but it is equally an influential actor with the capacity to anticipate change, to innovate and to benefit human development-Nicholas Burnet, Assistant Director General for Education (UNESCO).
Asante Africa Foundation’s focus on education is one way in which we are making strides to ensure the success and sustainability of the communities in which we work. UNESCO argues that the ‘bottom-up’ approach is crucial to ensure sustainability and community buy-in. One of the most important components of our education infrastructure projects, consistent with the best practices of UNESCO, is the building of positive and reciprocal relationships with members of the schools, district officers, families, students, and members of the community. Meaningful participation and true partnerships enhance cross-cultural understanding and are critical for designing, implementing, and evaluating a sustainable project. The most successful projects are those wherein the objectives corresponded to the priorities of the community, with the key stakeholders regularly involved in decision-making at all stages of the project cycle. The projects that we have worked with which have had the greatest community input and engagement have proven to be the most successful. Some of these include:
Mwalimu Anna Primary School—The community had begun building significant portions of the 6 classrooms with their own resources. Additionally, they assist the neighborhood nursery school at Mgungani with a qualified teacher and support.
Bomani Government School—The community started the classroom project by building foundation and walls and Asante Africa is helping with the final stages.
Fanaka Secondary School— It is a new school, only two years old, which services many students in slum areas of Narok Town. The Head teacher is very engaged with students – collects clothes and bedding for those in need and asks the community to donate when possible.
Orkolili Secondary School—Parents raised $2300 to start construction of science labs and has outreached the government to assist as well. They are creative with ways in which to most efficiently spend each dime and make the most of what they have.
All of these projects are making great strides in the community and because of the community.