The Library Project Organizes Donation Program for China

Of course, as soon as I say nothing is happening yet with rebuilding schools … I come across this:

The Library Project has created a program, “Earthquake Affected Regions“, to help rebuild the educational system that was affected as a result of the earthquake. It is projected that hundreds of elementary schools have been damaged in the Sichuan and Shaanxi Provinces. The Library Project will be providing books and libraries for elementary schools and orphanages as they are rebuilt or repaired.

New discussion forums on WebJunction

There’s been some recent interesting activity on WebJunction’s International Libraries discussion forums.  Conversations about distance learning and library 2.0 are the most recent.

Go check them out.

Full disclosure – I work for WJ and help moderate these discussions.

Distance learning in Iraq: Creating intellectual capacity through e-learning

With the flight or death of so many academics in Iraq, education has suffered greatly.   The paper Distance Learning/e-Learning for Iraq: Concept and Road Map by Ala’a Al-Din J. Kadhem Al-Radhi outlines how to implement distance education now in Iraq.  The author recognizes the immense challenges due to security issues, but it is a hopeful plan to bring back quality higher education to a country that was once a intellectual leader in the Arab world.

UNESCO Literacy Prize

Literacy projects in China, the United States, Nigeria, Senegal and the United Republic of Tanzania are the winners of the five UNESCO Literacy Prizes this year. One of them was awarded to a US organization that partners with health organizations. Good news considering the recent study that found only smoking was a stronger predictor of early death than illiteracy. You can listen to a podcast from Scientific American to hear more about it.

Human Rights Based Approach to Development

This post on Librarians and Human Rights blog caught my eye. It reminds me of conversations I’ve had with folks who are working in economic or health development, and who didn’t agree with the priority I was giving to education and access to information in human development. They looked at Maslow’s heirarchy of needs, and seeing hunger and health as the first problems to tackle over illiteracy and poor education.

Technology and pearls

The following are some unformed, unresearched thoughts. But I wanted to write them, as perhaps a seed of something else to come.

In the 19th century, in Europe and in North America, an adult education movement flowered. Parallel to the industrial revolution, adults who had not had opportunities for education as children, but who either saw more opportunities as for a man with education to succeed economically, or who had reached a comfortable enough level of economic independence that education became a goal for its own sake. I envision here, for Guatemala and countries like it, where 19th century social and economic relations still exist, that an adult education movement could flower, and transform the country. I think of Paul de Filipo´s book, The Steampunk Trilogy, where he writes of a Victorian social structure with 23rd century technology, and it seems in many ways like the future of Guatemala. As foreign technology is adopted here, with all its consequent social and economic effects, the social structure will mal-adapt, creating artificial layers of structures, like pearls or cysts, around the introduced technology. Until LDCs start innovating indigenous technology, technology will always be the grains of sand in the organisms of the country.

Public education in Mexico

I just recently watched the movie, Granito de arena, a documentary about the Mexican teacher’s union.  This, from the back cover: “For over 20 years, economic globalization has been dismantling public education in Mexico. But always in the constant shadow of popular resistance. This is the story of that resistance – the story of a grassroots, non-violent movement of public schoolteachers who took Mexico by surprise and who have endured brutal repression in their 25-year struggle to defend public education.”

It made me consider what education does for the individual and the community. And it made me consider more what a violation it is to deny, distort, or control it counter to the community needs. While a national educational policy is vital in order to ensure access to education for all, it should be governed democratically, so that community concerns are met. And this is mainly what the movie is about, though the union is also reacting to specific policies and actions of the Mexican government.