My name is Fergus and I am going to be working with Impact Network as an Education Development Intern over the next three months.
Since graduating University in 2012 I have spent a number of years working in the social sector in London, most recently with a social enterprise called Localgiving where I trained charities across the UK in digital skills and fundraising. This role gave me the opportunity to work closely with new charities each week, covering a diverse range of causes, and I was constantly inspired by the positive impact that these local organizations were able to make on their communities through harnessing digital skills.
Many of the organizations I worked with were youth-focused and ranged from local, community youth centers to national organizations such as Girlguiding UK. I also became increasingly involved in a number of youth organizations myself and decided that I wanted to gain more experience of community-level, youth organizations in an international context.
In September 2016, I began an eight month placement with the International Citizen Service in Bangladesh. During this placement I worked on education and gender equality projects in a small, rural community while leading multiple teams of young UK and Bangladeshi volunteers. It was an incredible eight months and was my first experience of working directly on education projects in a developing country.
The community in which I was working had received sporadic aid over the past 20 years from a number of different organizations, which meant there was a real contrast between well-funded schools and the unfunded community schools that had received little to no financial aid. What struck me most in the difference between the children in these schools was not simply the students’ levels of numeracy and literacy but, more crucially, their self-belief. Previous to this experience I admit to taking for granted the power of education to develop a child outside of formal learning. However, it was clear from my time in Bangladesh that children who had access to an interactive and stimulating education consistently expressed a greater confidence of their own abilities and a stronger desire to use what they were learning to better their communities in the future.
This experience motivated me to learn more about innovate ways in which organizations were improving education for children in rural communities and I was particularly excited when I came across Impact Network. By empowering teachers with tablets focused on interactive and activity based lesson plans, Impact Network is able to bring quality education to communities across rural Zambia. As an intern I am excited about tying in my previous experiences in education and digital skills and learning first-hand how Impact Network is improving education for children in rural communities.
I’m writing this blog from my room at Joel Community School, Impact Network’s first school, where I have now been for the past couple of weeks. It has been a fantastic experience so far and I have already got involved in a range of projects, including: helping to run a day-long exam committee, observing teachers across a range of schools and helping to develop teacher training presentations.
I’m easing in nicely into village life, slowly mastering the art of making balls of Nshima (popular food made from maize flour) and, much less slowly, the art of carrying my water back from the local borehole without spilling it all over myself.
There are a lot of exciting projects for me to work on over the next few months and I will be sure to keep you all updated.