I started my education in a non-state pre-primary and primary school before enrolling in a state secondary school in Sierra Leone, continued through on scholarships to world class non-state universities in the United States and then to a multinational company as a research scientist in Kenya. I am now channelling all I learned during this mix of private and public education and life choices into the combined roles I have in the Sierra Leonean government on education and innovation.
As a Cabinet Minister, I have the responsibility for overseeing such a mix of state and non-state actors working with me on educating the children of our country. While some people seem to pretend that non-state actors do not or should not play a role in education today, the fact of the matter is that they do already and will continue to do so tomorrow. In Sierra Leone, for example, 60% of all schools are owned by religious missions, and 15% are owned by the private sector. The new 2021/2 Global Education Monitoring Report on non-state actors in education just released on this subject shows clearly that there is no part of education that non-state actors are not involved in. If non-state actors somehow disappeared tomorrow, the education of no fewer than 350 million children would fall to the responsibility of the state.
You can try, but it’s also extremely difficult these days to make clear distinctions between public and private. If most statistics on this matter tend to look at management and ownership, the new report shows how intertwined the two are in financing. Governments financially support non-state schools in 171 out of 204 countries: these include private schools in 115 countries, faith-based schools in 120 countries; and non-governmental organization and community schools in 81 countries. This makes the arguments that stake positions on clear dichotomies between either private-or-public increasingly irrelevant.
In this context, our role is to make sure that we design our governance and regulations in a way that ensures that all these actors pull in the same direction. This means strong oversight on the core values we committed to as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, notably equity and quality. Yet, the GEM Report’s PEER website shows that countries’ regulations are least likely to focus on quality or equity: 67% regulate fee setting, 55% prevent selective student admission procedures in non-state schools, 27% ban profit making and only 7% have quotas supporting access of disadvantaged groups.
Along with setting explicit rules and regulations that clearly outline our vision to all actors, I agree with the report when it says that collaboration is key to making sure that we deliver on this agenda. This means creating spaces and setting the conditions for a variety of actors to interact. There is much to be gained from putting all parties’ expertise to good use. One of the first things that we did when I left the private sector to come to this office, for instance, was to put together a new curriculum framework relevant to the 21st century. We built teacher training modules based on real needs. This report calls for all countries to pick up on such practices. Skills development systems that feed on contributions from governments, employers and the workers themselves are far more likely to keep pace with labour market needs.
Anyone in government knows that public education is not easily reformed. But with the fast and furious changes in the world, education systems need to keep up. More than that, they have a lot to gain if they do so. Partnerships with the private sector can help bring resources and expertise and encourage initiatives at a pace governments may be unlikely to achieve on their own. We recently issued tablets to administrators to help them track grades, enrolment, attendance and budgets. We have a fully digitized school census data going right back to 2015 that we now interrogate to track those left behind. All these enhance our ability to make impact at scale within the public sector.
But I also welcome the warning sounded in the new GEM Report for governments as they navigate these partnerships. What strategic interests are our partners putting first? Does their support align with government priorities, does it avoid duplication or distraction, and will it be flexible to our evolving needs? The questions the report asks are important for all of us to consider. ‘Who is choosing?’, we are asked. Sometimes it might not be clear. ‘Who is losing?’, it asks again. Why is it always the same groups?
It shouldn’t matter to an education minister where children are educated. Governments must show they care equally for all children’s education no matter the choices made and to apply the same quality standards, monitoring and accountability mechanisms across all providers. In Sierra Leone, the government pays exam fees for all children including those in private schools, for instance. We also provide training and assistance on emergency responses across all schools, and endeavour to increase our support on teacher training in private schools in the future. We are all party to making sure that our education system works for all. Whether you are in the private or public sector, I encourage you to read the 2021/2 GEM Report recommendations to be sure you are not left behind on the vision it has for change.
The Social Innovators of the Year 2022
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship announced today 15 awardees for social innovation in 2022.
From a Brazilian entrepreneur using hip-hop to turn Favela youth away from crime, a Dutch nurse revolutionizing home healthcare and a park ranger turned tech founder using Minecraft to revive Australia’s Indigenous culture, the 2022 Social Innovators of the Year includes a list of outstanding founders and chief executive officers, multinational and regional business leaders, government leaders and recognized experts.
The awardees were selected by Schwab Foundation Board members, including Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark (2011-2015), and social innovation expert Johanna Mair, Professor of Organization, Strategy and Leadership at the Hertie School of Governance in Germany, and H.M. Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Honorary Board Member, in recognition of their innovative approach and potential for global impact.
“The Social Innovators of the Year 2022 represent a new ecosystem of leaders who are driving change and shifting organizations and systems towards a more just, inclusive, sustainable future,” said Hilde Schwab, Co-Founder and Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
The Schwab Foundation’s unique community of social innovators dates back more than two decades to 1998 when Hilde Schwab, together with her husband Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, created the foundation to support a new model for social change, combining often-overlooked values of mission, compassion and dedication with the best business principles on the planet to serve the most disadvantaged people on earth and build a better society.
Today, the foundation has a thriving community of 400 global social entrepreneurs that have impacted the lives of 722 million people in 190 countries. They offer access to healthcare, education, housing, finance, digital skills and advocacy networks resulting in job creation economic opportunity, improved health and stability.
To help the social enterprise sector increase its reach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Schwab Foundation established the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs early 2020, representing 90+ members and an estimated 100,000 entrepreneurs as the largest collaborative in the sector.
“This year’s Schwab Foundation Awardees demonstrate that through values-based approaches centring on inclusivity, collaboration, relationships of trust and long-term sustainability, we have proven ways of changing institutions and mindsets, and disrupting traditional ways of working that hold systemic barriers in place,” said François Bonnici, Director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
The 2022 Schwab Foundation Awards are hosted in a long-term partnership with the Motsepe Foundation, founded on the philosophy of “Ubuntu”, the African concept of giving and caring for your neighbour and other members of your community.
“I strongly believe social entrepreneurship, combined with local innovation and technology, can create meaningful change and recovery in Africa and many developing nations. At its core it is about bringing together the best of business discipline and efficiency with the best of human and social values. We need this synergy, now more than ever,” said Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Co-Chair, Motsepe Foundation and Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.
The 2022 awardees are:
Founders or chief executive officers who solve a social or environmental problem, with a focus on low-income, marginalized or vulnerable populations.
Ashraf Patel, Co-Founder of Pravah and ComMutiny Youth Collective (CYC), India: For almost three decades, Patel has nurtured inside-out youth leadership with collective organisations. This ecosystem has co-created the right space, context and narrative that has reached over 15 million young people.
Celso Athayde, Founder, Central Unica das Favelas (CUFA) and Chief Executive Officer, Favela Holding, Brazil: One of Brazil’s best-known social entrepreneurs, Athayde founded the nation’s largest social enterprise focused on favela communities, using music and sport to transform their lives.
Jos de Blok, Founder, Buurtzorg, Netherlands: de Blok is revolutionizing nursing around the world with buurtzorg, meaning neighbourhood care, which puts nurses and patients at the heart of its social enterprise model.
Kennedy Odede, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities), Kenya: Passion, 20 cents and a soccer ball were the building blocks for Odede’s social enterprise SHOFCO, which is transforming urban slums and providing economic hope.
Marlon Parker, Co-Founder, Reconstructed Living Labs (RLabs) and Rene Parker, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, RLabs, South Africa: Marlon and Renee Parker grew a Cape Town community project helping ex-convicts into a global social enterprise that has helped around 20 million disadvantaged people by offering tech skills, training, funding and workspaces.
Mikaela Jade, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Indigital, Australia: From park ranger to tech founder, Jade founded Australia’s first Indigenous edu-tech company using augmented and mixed realities to preserve and teach Indigenous culture and history.
Rana Dajani, Founder and Director, Taghyeer/We Love Reading, Jordan: Dajani sparked a global reading revolution, training female volunteers to read to kids. We Love Reading now operates in 56 countries, benefiting nearly half a million children.
Wenfeng Wei (Jim), Founder and Chief Executive Officer, DaddyLab, People’s Republic of China: “Daddy Wei” is a social media champion for safer consumer goods. His enterprise DaddyLab is a one-stop shop for trusted product testing, consumer rights advice for families.
Corporate social intrapreneurs
Leaders within multinational or regional companies who drive the development of new products, initiatives, services or business models that address societal and environmental challenges.
Gisela Sanchez, Corporate Affairs, Marketing, Strategy and Sustainability Director, Bac International Bank and Board Member, Nutrivida, Costa Rica: Nutritional food firm Nutrivida, the brainchild of Gisela Sanchez, combats a lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet, known as hidden hunger, that affects 2 billion people.
Sam McCracken, Founder and General Manager, Nike N7, USA: A member of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes from the Ft Peck Indian Reservation in Montana, McCracken founded Nike N7 20 years ago with a vision of using the power of sport to promote cultural awareness. It demonstrates Nike’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion with the Indigenous populations of North America. Today, N7 has benefited more than 500,000 Indigenous youth.
Public social intrapreneurs
Government leaders who harness the power of social innovation social entrepreneurship to create public good through policy, regulation or public initiatives.
Pradeep Kakkattil, Director of Innovation, UNAIDS, Switzerland: Kakkattil founded global platform HIEx to link innovators, governments and investors and find solutions to global healthcare problems, from COVID diagnosis to the cost of medicines.
Sanjay Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer, Open Government Partnership (OGP), Global: Pradhan has been a tireless champion of good governance and fighting corruption, leading a partnership of 78 countries, 76 local governments and thousands of civil society organizations that are working together to make governments more open and less corrupt.
Social innovation thought leaders
Recognized experts and champions shaping the evolution of social innovation.
Alberto Alemanno, Professor of Law, HEC Paris and Founder, The Good Lobby, European Union, France: Alemanno is passionate about overcoming social, economic and political inequalities. His civic start-up, The Good Lobby, kickstarted a movement for ethical and sustainable lobbying.
Adam Kahane, Director, Reos Partners, Canada: Kahane is a global leader in helping diverse teams of leaders work together, across their differences, to address their most important and intractable issues. He has facilitated breakthrough projects in more than 50 countries on climate action, racial equity, democratic governance, Indigenous rights, health, food, energy, water, education, justice and security.
Hahrie Han, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Professor of Political Science, Inaugural Director of the SNF Agora Institute, Johns Hopkins University, USA: Han is a leading academic and author on collective action and the way citizens can collaborate to solve public problems and influence policy, from immigration to voting rights.
Grace and a Tennis Celebrity
Among the character traits we cherish in fellow humans, grace is often more noticeable in its absence. The recent saga of a Serbian tennis player and his manner of entry into Australia and subsequent events come to mind. A champion athlete cannot help but serve as an ambassador for his country, and in Serbia’s case, after the horrors of the Yugoslavia civil war and its prominent role, it is a country that needs all the help it can get.
Novak Djokovic is ranked number one in the world and is in Australia to defend his title. He appears to have lied on his Australian entry form: False declarations are grounds for revoking a visa, and immigration officials acted. But as world number one, he is a draw for the tournament … and money talks — he is already scheduled to play his first match as this is written.
Mr. Djokovic’s lawyers went to court which overturned the immigration officials’ order against him on the grounds they had not followed proper procedure. Then the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, who had been thinking about canceling his visa actually did. So it’s back to court.
But it gets worse: Djokovic has not been vaccinated. He claims that having had the illness, he is immune. Scientists have found that to be of short duration.
He also broke isolation rules after he had tested positive, particularly by not isolating himself, thereby endangering his contacts. Cavalier his behavior maybe, perhaps careless but possibly a sense that rules are not for celebrities, only for lesser mortals.
That it caused a sense of outrage is apparent. A leaked video has a couple of news anchors discussing Djokovic in not very flattering terms: “Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky asshole”, says one. Yet the comment also is evidence of a coarseness that has gradually pervaded language.
In the meantime, Mr. Djokovic’s father has his own take on the affair. He calls it a conspiracy to prevent his son from breaking the previous record of 20 Grand Slam title wins held by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer because they are all against Serbia. But Serbia, which still believes in little Jesus and is thus protected, will prevail.
Would aphorisms like ‘a storm-in-a-teacup’ or ‘mountains out of a molehill’ be descriptive? Not if it’s news across the world. Yet, if he continues to rant on the tennis court and win, it could be his way of getting rid of nerves, an eternal bugaboo.
He must have another crucial concern: the biological clock. At 34 going on to 35 in five months, and with much younger rivals snapping at his heels, it has to be a race against time to win that 21st major title.
Just like grace notes relieve tedium in music, perhaps Djokovic’s rants relieve the boring baseline game that modern tennis has become. No more a Frank Sedgman or a Pancho Gonzales charging up to the net to put away a dramatic volley, tennis now needs a grace note, or two, or three …
Age No Bar: A Paradigm Shift in the Girl Child’s Marriageable Age in India
India is a country known to have diverse culture, languages, social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief system, religions and their personal laws. With personal laws governing succession, adoption, divorce etc, one of the most important aspects governed by the personal laws is Marriage. Indian society has a deep-rooted belief of marriages being the most sacred bond between two people. Every religion of the country gives utmost importance to this sacred bond. Since this bond is of such great importance to the Indian society and to the people of the country, the legal system and the personal laws have made efforts to legalise the sacred bond. There are conditions and requirements laid down for the marriage to be solemnized and get a legal sanction. One such important condition is “age”. According to most of the personal laws and The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 the legal age for a man should not be less than 21 years of age and a woman 18 years of age. Recently the government introduced The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to raise the age of marriage for women from 18 years to 21 years
Introduction of this bill shall prove to be a ray of hope for people struggling to curb the evil of child marriage in our country. One cannot claim progress unless women progress on all fronts including their physical, mental and reproductive health. The Constitution guarantees gender equality as part of the fundamental rights and also guarantees prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex. This bill would bring women equal to the men as far as the legal age of marriage in concerned. Under the National Family Health Survery-5, it is stated 7% of the girls aged between 15 and 18 years were found to be pregnant and nearly 23% of the girls in the age group of 20 to 24 were married below the age of 18 years. There are researches to point that from 2015 to 2020, 20 lakhs child marriages have been stopped.
In my opinion, increasing the age of women from 18 years to 21 should not be seen solely as an equal opportunity for them to choose their life partners at the same age as that of men, but this is a step taken by the government to eradicate child marriages that still find way in to our society. It should be seen as an effort to bring down maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rate. It shall also try and curb the teenage pregnancies, which are extremely harmful for women’s overall health as well as the infants born out of it. We also have to take into consideration that a large part of our society still lack basic education and awareness about these laws and the advantages attached to it. We as educated citizens of the country should take extra efforts in making people aware and to make them understand about the disadvantages associated with child marriage and the overall consequences their children would face in the future. We should appreciate the efforts taken by the government to tackle gender inequality and gender discrimination adequate measures taken to secure health, welfare and empowerment of our women and girls and to ensure status and opportunity for them at par with men.
*The Views Expressed are Strictly Personal
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