I've just returned from the Global Philanthropy Forum, an annual gathering of up to 500 philanthropists and social activists from all over the world. A very good place to remember how many things ARE working around the globe. Today I'm concentrating on what's working in education. Providing sufficient, relevant and culturally appropriate education is the key to most of our societal challenges.
Education can be reformed. It's being done in the U.S. and overseas with great success. Note that all of the organizations below combine academics with a strong moral and value based (non-secular) teaching model. These examples of remarkable education opportunities, highlighted at the Global Philanthropy Forum include:
You've got four years at Earth. Located in Costa Rica, the university offers a rigorous, accredited four year program in sustainable development that centers around agricultural sciences and natural resources based on values, ethical entrepreneurship and social commitment. EU's goal is to provide the global community with young adults that are prepared to build a prosperous and just society. Really.
There are short courses, study abroad programs and internships available to U.S. college students. I spent some time with Earth's President Jose Zaglul, an intelligent and passionate academic who grasps the need for a new approach to higher education. He speaks of agriculture as the "profession of our future".
Ashesi's story is, in many ways, the story of it's founder, Patrick Awuah, a Ghanaian who spent over 15 years living and working in the U.S. Patrick left Ghana to study, on a full scholarship, at Swarthmore and from there worked for Microsoft as an engineer. While attending U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business, Patrick returned to Ghana to investigate the feasibility of establishing a university there, as he recognized the value of quality higher education and the need for fellow Ghanaians to have access to this quality education.
Today, Ashesi significantly raises the bar for higher education in Africa, calling on its students to exemplify integrity and ability. While Ashesi's curriculum is designed in a traditional Liberal Arts model, Ashesi has adopted guiding principles that set the college apart. Their fundamental premise that the means determines the quality of the end is woven throughout its pillars of scholarship, leadership and citizenship.
Amit Bhatia, Founder and Chairman of Aspire India, describes his mission to make Aspire the #1 global talent development organization. Amit has tapped into India's greatest resource - it's human capital. He's created an education and training program that serves students in K-12, colleges and universities by combining life skills and technical skills. Knowledge, skills, attitude plus English language sessions produce qualified job candidates that are leagues ahead of their peers.
By improving employable skills, Aspire also instills confidence and professionalism. This is not your Grandma's trade school.
Education can be improved. And when it is improved, it works. Very well.
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