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PEAS, ALISON and MEDERSAT among the WISE guys in international education awards

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PEAS, ALISON and MEDERSAT among the WISE guys in international education awards

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WISE, the annual World Innovation Summit for Education, held in Doha, brings together thousands of education professionals to discuss developments and new ideas, and to award projects of outstanding merit.

One winning project is PEAS in Uganda. Although primary schools are universal in Uganda, in rural areas there are only secondary school places for around 20% of children. And funding for State schools is difficult. The English NGOPEAS” (Promoting Equality in African Schools) was founded in 2002 and is working hard to help solve the problem.

The government contributes around 20 euros per term for each student, and PEAS schools use the Ugandan curriculum, adding classes in entrepreneurship, agriculture and citizenship.

In the last decade PEAS has founded 21 secondary schools in Uganda and one in Zambia. They are funded by the government’s 20 euro subsidy plus tuition fees, plus money they make – by selling agricultural products, for example. In every school, half of all places are reserved for girls, who have traditionally not had much access to education in sub-Saharan Africa.

PEAS aims to create 100,000 secondary school places in Uganda by 2017. As a WISE award winner, PEAS receives 20,000 US dollars as do all the other winners.

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In Ireland the ALISON website is an award winner. In Galway, in the west of Ireland, people might not know his face, but they know his name. Mike Feerick set up the very first free Massive Open Online Course in the world and today MOOCs are very much part of the educational scenery. ALISON, the website he set up in 2007, enables people from anywhere in the world to access vocational training, study academic subjects and take exams recognised in the workplace.

Now, there are more than 500 courses on the site; everything including languages, economics, history… and 4 or 5 new courses are being added every week. Lessons are recorded and within few hours circulated on the internet. Around 2 two million people have used ALISON and around 250,000 of them have passed exams.

Pupils come from everywhere and 70% of them are women. ALISON, which is mainly funded by advertising, is now being translated into ten languages worldwide.

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Medersat, working in Morocco, was also a prize winner. Two hours away from Casablanca, in Laazib, a school almost looks like a mirage but it is a solid reality. It is a Medersat school where children are taught in their mother tongue Amazigh, the Berber language.

Malika Taktouri, a teacher at Laazib School, said: “This school is very different from a state school. Here, all the teachers and directors listen to everyone, to what they say and they know what is happening around us. We have strong relationships with the local population. That’s not the case in other schools. In other schools relationships are limited to those between teachers and pupils.”

Laazib was the 49th school built by Medersat, with the aim of tackling educational under-achievement among Amazigh students in rural primary schools due to language barriers. It’s also the first to develop a curriculum in Amazaigh in Morocco.

There are now nearly a hundred schools like this across the country and they are not only changing children’s lives, they are helping adults too. Said, the village barber, never learned to read and write at school but now he has learned and displays his diploma in his shop.

The foundation’s aim is to build a thousand schools across the country by constructing 5 schools a year in Morocco and another one somewhere else in Africa, every year. To date, nearly 300 families and 15,000 students have benefited from the Medersat Foundation and last year, 45 Medersat students even got university degrees.

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