Bronze Award participant Molly Macaire has set up a project to help disadvantaged children self-educate in a slum village in Kenya. Here she explains what inspired the creation of EDCLUB and how her participation in the Award has made an impact on her own life.
"EDCLUB is a movement concerned with helping disadvantaged children to self educate using the internet. This was inspired by an award-winning TED Talk by Professor Sugata Mitra in which he describes his projects in India where he provided children in low-income areas with robust computers and access to the internet, encouraging them to explore and learn by posing questions for the kids to answer. His philosophy being that children are naturally inquisitive and if given the means, they are able to learn everything they need to know on the internet.
"While living in Nairobi, Kenya I was involved in a project with Huruma Slum Village and through that gained a relationship of mutual trust with the community leaders and a strong connection with the local children. As a result, on return to England, when I watched the TED Talk my immediate thought was - can we do this in Huruma? Along with three close friends at my school who were also Bronze Award holders, we set out to try and give the children of Huruma the best possible chance of an education in order to gain necessary skills for later life using Professor Mitra’s concept. The project has been a huge success and in September we will have another 22 mentors joining us to help fulfil our mission to involve every child in Huruma. The need for this movement to grow is apparent because the difference between the children participating at the Huruma end and the ones we aren’t able to facilitate at the moment is colossal.
Seeing the world differently
"The project has affected all of us much more than we expected it would - the very personal relationship that each mentor has built up with their group of children is one that none of us will ever forget. The children are all wonderful and yet entirely unique. We’ve been able to experience a world completely different to our own just through chatting to the children via Skype and it is only through taking part in EDCLUB that we have all been able to appreciate how relatively little effort is required to transform the lives of four other human beings, something that never crossed my mind before. It has given all of us a hugely optimistic outlook on life.
"The skills this section of the Award has provided us with are ones that everyone needs to learn - teamwork most importantly and the ability to compromise in order to succeed. EDCLUB has allowed me to get over my fear of public speaking as I have given many talks to children of all ages to spread awareness and recruit new mentors. For the kids in Huruma this part of the Award has meant they have a better chance of being able to get out of the slum as they learn about the world while gaining both computer skills and the ability to speak English fluently, which will give them a higher chance of being employable when they grow up.
"This project is designed to last as long as anyone wants it to last; the friendship I have made with my group means that I can’t see an end to our relationship and I intend to carry on communicating with them for the foreseeable future. EDCLUB is a movement and is spreading rapidly across England with six schools starting in September. This means we have a lot of new Award participants to sign up! Each will, undoubtedly, have a completely different experience, which is the nature of this project.
"Talking to the children I have learned to never take anything for granted, like the opportunities I have been lucky to have in my life such as a fantastic education. I have been able to have a first hand insight into life in a slum while sitting in my sitting room at home - something very few people are able to experience - and I’ve learned that joy can come from anywhere: in Huruma it comes from the extreme feeling of community spirit, something that I find we seriously lack in most places in England."
If you would like to find out more about how you can take part, email EDCLUB with your questions. You can also read more about Molly's Award experience and what she thinks she's learned from taking part.