SDGs with the Trees: Working with rural communities
By Lian Sabella Castillo, Project Officer, Global Schools Ambassador 2018, Philippines
Prior to accepting my role as part of the first cohort of Global Schools Ambassadors for 2018, I was conducting research on how to effectively integrate information and communications technology (ICT) for schools in rural settings. This isn’t too far off from what we do as volunteers at Global Schools. The main objective is to impart knowledge –and technology should make that easier, not harder. With the program relying closely on its resources found online, I will share lessons I learned from my short time observing a rural community.
The Importance of Peopleware
Ultimately, I found that despite all the limitations in hardware and software, it is the initiative of the people – administrators, teachers, and students alike that increase what we would call ICT integration. There were schools that were more resource-endowed yet due to fear of the distractions the World Wide Web could bring, integration was curbed because of strict boundaries.
An example of a school I really admired was one where there was absolutely no reception yet was able to score highly on key indicators because of efforts done by the teacher. The teacher, in her free time, went to the town center and pre-downloaded material e.g. dance videos, games, whatnot and was able to use innovative pedagogy in her practice. This is in stark difference to the school with readily available resources but had prevented access for both teachers and students.
Here are tips on how you can emulate our model teacher:
1. Pre-download material
Regardless of where your school is located, it is always a good idea to have pre-loaded material as you might encounter some cases where you cannot obtain the necessary files because of firewalls or privacy issues. When showing videos, it might be better to download them rather than keep them open on your browser’s tab so you won’t have to rely on having a stable connection while presenting.
There are situations where schools do not have proper equipment or places conducive for large presentations. It would be a great advantage for teachers and students alike to have something to look at or hold onto, especially if they can get back to it for accessing later (or at their homes). Place here important information such as links, contact details, or vital points to remember. This could also help you localize material to better adjust to the social climate of your area. Remember to always refer to the Advocates Toolkit to check when it is appropriate to use official logos and branding.
3. Know your cause
At the core of it all, your greatest asset is what you know. You have undergone intensive training to talk about sustainable development and how to implement education FOR sustainable development. This especially comes in handy when talking about your work ad hoc as you never know who you’ll run into. As much as we would all like to have all necessary equipment for all its convenience, there are realities which are out of our hands. We must get creative and gritty. You will see, it is much more fulfilling to power through adversity and achieve your goals against all odds.
Teaching the SDGs in non-urban communities is not always as straightforward, but my own experience has taught me that it is not only possible but also extremely important and rewarding. With that, I wish our 450 newly conferred advocates good luck! I hope we practice what we preach and remain inclusive despite some setbacks.