As the late Nelson Mandela once said:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
That is why this years World Thinking Day theme was particularly special. MDG2: Education
In case you didn’t know, I’ll briefly explain the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) outlined by the UN. The MDGs are 8 goals that the UN wants to achieve by 2015, 15 years on from their conception in 2000.
The MDG’s are:
- To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (WTD theme 2010)
- To achieve universal primary education (WTD theme 2014)
- To promote gender equality and empowering women (WTD theme 2011)
- To reduce child mortality rates (WTD theme 2013)
- To improve maternal health (WTD theme 2013)
- To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases (WTD theme 2009)
- To ensure environmental sustainability (WTD theme 2012)
- To develop a global partnership for development (WTD theme 2015)
WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) wisely thought of using these goals as the themes for the World Thinking Days from 2009 to 2015. Last year (2013) two MDGs were used as they went hand in hand – to improve maternal health and to reduce child mortality.
This year was the turn of MDG2: Education.
The aim is that by 2015 all children will have the chance to enroll in and complete primary education. In particular, girls often miss out on more than boys. The UN has shown that 78% of girls drop out of school compared to 48% of boys. In at least 25 countries the proportion of boys who enroll in secondary education is greater than girls by at least 10% and in 5 the gap is over 20%.
Is there any wonder that globally, girls are so often trailing behind their male peers?
MDG2 Infographic from the UN
The main event!
Celebrating World Thinking Day in a World Centre is quite different to any other WTD experience.
WAGGGS WTD logo 2014
We organised our main activities to take place two days early (on the 20th), for reasons that I will explain later.
Despite being organised and starting planning well in advance of the main event the day crept up on us at an alarming rate! Several of us were working together to create and run the event and we each had different activities or tasks to work on. We had decided on a round robin approach to the evening with 7 stations in total to participate in, with 15 minutes on each.
The stations were:
1. Lights camera action
One of two questions had to be answered through photographs or film (or a mix of the two).
The questions were:
“What has being a Guide or Scout taught you?”
“What does an education mean to you?”
There were guidelines to follow (use props, show your clapperboard, make sure all members of your group are on camera at some point). The most difficult part of this was deciding which question to choose and then which of many possible things should be discussed!
This station was one of the reasons that the event was two days early. We wanted the video to be compiled and ready to show the Guiding and Scouting world on the 22nd!
2. Bye bye barriers
Many people are fortunate enough to be able to take education for granted. They will go to school, they will be able to stay in school and they will have opportunities to do apprenticeships, diplomas or degrees. However, in some parts of the world it isn’t quite that easy. Some children don’t even have the chance to finish primary school.
This task was to make our participants think about the barriers that some people may encounter when trying to get an education. They had to discuss ways of breaking down these barriers and decide on solutions until all the problems they encountered were solved.
3. Learning a basic task
There are three types of education:
- Formal education through schools with set curriculums.
- Informal education through organizations where a curriculum is not necessarily followed such as Guiding and Scouting.
- Non-formal learning as demonstrated between parent and child such as learning the alphabet, learning to catch and learning how to ride a bike.
This was a basic task (tying a shoelace) that had to be taught in a formal and a non-formal teaching style. It showed the importance of having mixed methods of education in order to enable everyone to succeed.
4. Your education
This was a self-reflective activity of what participants liked and didn’t like about their own educations. There were several questions written in the middle of a large piece of paper:
- How do you like to learn?
- Do you like school and why?
- How long do you expect to be in education and why?
- How do you feel that your school could be improved to benefit everyone?
Everyone had the opportunity to write answers and after each question the answers were discussed. There were no wrong answers, everyone was entitled to express their true opinions.
5. When I grow up…
Around this station each member of staff had created posters of our childhood dreams and aspirations compared to our current dreams.
It’s surprising just how different our dreams are now to what they were. Also it showed us that although we were generally unsure of the occupation we want to be in now as adults, than we were as children. However, we were more certain about feelings or end goals such as ‘being happy’, ‘enjoying my job’ and ‘wanting to make the world a better place’.
Each participant was given the blank outline of a person and inside the person they had to write their dreams and aspirations. On the outside they had to write all the things that they have done or will need to do to achieve their goals.
As a group they then discussed their differing aspirations, appreciated their individual differences and compared the similarities in what they needed to do to achieve their goals.
6. Learning for life
A timeline was set up and participants had to decide what we learn at various stages of our lives. From birth – school age – adulthood – old age. It showed us that that although big learning steps are clustered in childhood and that despite formal education ceasing (or reducing) in adulthood, learning can and will always carry on!
7. International learning
This game showed the guests that education could take you all over the world!
International learning was a pairing activity involving a list of staff members who had travelled to different parts of the world for their educations. The places and names were paired with three things that each person learnt whilst away. It enabled everyone to see the variety of things that you can learn from living and studying abroad.
After we had all graduated from the School of Our Chalet in MDG2: Education we went outside to have a ceremony. We had drawn a trefoil in the snow, and set it with candles. We formed a circle around the trefoil, sang the world song and members of each MO took turns to renew their promises.
The Big Day. World Thinking Day – 22nd February 2014
Thinking day itself was busy in a number of ways. We had a lot of guests, Skype calls around the world (Sangam and USA) and we were writing replies to groups that sent us WTD post. We had great fun Skyping Sangam as we both had a big group of guests to participate. Singing songs with people on the other side of the world is quite an experience!
In addition to these of course, we were frantically editing and formatting the World Thinking Day video so that it was ready by 17:00! But we need not have feared – it was ready for showing to our big group of Guides before Skyping a group of Girl Scouts in the USA at 17:30. Everyone loved it! The Skype call even ended with a swap of addresses so that the units could become pen pals. The girls on both ends of the call were delighted!
It was a truly fantastic couple of days. For me, it really confirmed how important Guiding and Scouting is and also what a fantastic world family we have.
I would love to introduce a big multi-unit, multi-division celebration to my area for next year. This year’s World Thinking Day has really inspired me.
Can you tell?
I shall end as I began, with another inspirational quote:
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Victoria Rice (UK)
Marketing and Communications Intern – Winter/Spring 2014
P.S. If you missed the WTD video you can find it here