Help to write the code for tomorrow – Part 2

Recently I wrote a blogpost “help to write the code for tomorrow” in which I argued, that for the majority world (I will use this expression from now on instead of developing world, thanks to Martine) the minority world (=western Europe and the USA) are role models. They think – because we are “wealthy” – it is a good idea to copy us. Especially our education systems. If they do have money – like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates – they build private schools, spent an awful lot of money to bring in the “best” profs from all over the world, focus strictly on management and economic growth – and repeat the same mistakes we’ve been making. And they are always very surprised when I tell them that we are seriously struggling with our education system …

Now 4 weeks later incredible things happened. In the meantime I went to India – which isn’t incredible – but what happened there is very much though. To make a long story short: I’ve got the chance to build a school from the scratch in rural India. To be more precise 8 km away from Khajuraho. Land is there, permissions to build on it and initial funding. I can build something which I would call a school of life.

Still can’t believe this happened … but it did!
I committed myself to the project last week – and we will most likely start in June/July 2012.
Time for A Change …

I am not at all an expert in building schools or learning and besides some smaller related projects in Benin, West Africa, I’ve never done anything like that. But I think I am a pretty good project coordinator and I know the right people – thanks to my international network – to set up a great team to make this happen. Plus I have the help of the local family there who offered me this chance.

Many things come together for me in this project:

  • I am somehow tired of living in the western world – I am fed up with the system and somehow I’ve lost my faith that real change will happen soon.
  • In this majority world – no matter where you are, China, Brazil, India, Africa – you simply can do things, you can make things happen.
  • I love to work on social projects – actually since my master thesis at the university (social entrepreneurship, 30 years ago) I have always been involved in innovative ways to drive social change.
  • I am convinced that education on a broad level is key to achieve a sustainable future for ALL of us on the planet. 9 billion and counting …
  • I’ve travelled to many places on this planet, I have seen quite some awful stuff, and I think all these experiences allow me to say: We, the minority world, can learn a lot from the majority world if we allow them to teach us! If we see them as equal partners. So THIS project will be a true collaboration with the local community.
  • I know many of my peers think the same way and I am sure that the one or the other is going to join me on this journey.
  • It perfectly fits into our idea of we_the_movie.
  • And I know it will be a very fullfilling and satisfying job.

So, what have I done so far?

I convinced a close friend of mine, Egon in New York, to join me on my next trip to India in April and to get involved in the project as the manager in the field. It wasn’t difficult to convince him at all.  I can already see him sitting underneath one of the huge trees wearing one of those bamboo hats, which we used to see in old films from India;-)   Egon in my eyes is the perfect guy for this! I am so glad he joined me.

At the unbox conference in Delhi I’ve met Indi Johar, an Indian architect, based in London. He delivered a great talk about a new understanding of architecture, he is demanding a much broader view of architecture E.g. he argues that it will have an impact on architure if architects will be responsible for how a buliding they’ve built will perform over 20 years or so >>> regarding people living and working in there, costs of renavation, heating …

I’ll told Indy about the project and we will talk mid March when I am on London on how to proceed and how to get him and his team involved. I think there was a reason why we’ve met in Delhi.

A hole in the wall. Sugata Mitra. Since 2002 I am following Sugata Mitra on his journey to explore and learn more about self-organization and learning in rural areas in India. I’ve spoken with him several times – and now we will install in summer 2 or 3 of the hole in the wall learning stations in Kahjuraho. I am really looking forward to do this. Besides the regular learning programs which will run on these computers we will also include special content regarding our school project. A first step to learn more about the way the poor kids will approach these opportunity.

And last but not least we will run a full day workshop on March 24 in Berlin. Together with friends we will discuss a huge range of questions and hopefully come up with a very first draft of a concept. We#ll ask questions like what needs to be there? What are international best-practice cases similar to this? Who to talk to/ contacts for more funding? What are the hurdles and risks that need to be addressed? Aso. If you feel like joining this, please let me know.

So the next few month I will finish my projects here in Germany and then start this new endevour …

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