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Yudith and Eyal are back from Kenya

In 2009, a group of educators coming from Africa and Asia toured the garden of the David Yellin College of Education, they came to visit the educational-ecologic garden opened by Dr. Michal Yuval. When I asked who is responsible for the group I was referred to Ms. Judith Rosenthal, Director of the Ahaorn Ofri International Training Center – MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, which is part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

I suggested Yudith that instead of a two-hour tour of the garden, we could build together a complete program on Education for Sustainable Development, in fact I knock the right door since Yudith was already working in this field, and establishing a partnership with the Institute was the begin of a great story.

At the end of five years from that meeting, TOGETHER we have trained about one hundred and fifty senior educators from Kenya. This process was based on intensive training courses in Education for Sustainable Development on the basis of the concepts and the models we developed, a concept that takes people and existing systems and through spiral process produces changes. "We do not give fish on rods we help people to manufacture the rods themselves.”

In 2011 one of these training courses was attended by Deputy Minister of Education Hon Calist Mwatela and Mr. Joseph Karuga, Chairman of KEPSHA (Kenyan Primary School Head Teachers Association, approximately 27,000 schools). They both understood the educational approach and the impact that this can bring to Kenya. This discovery led them to sign a collaboration agreement in 2013 between the MASHAV of the Israel Ministry of Foreign of Affairs and the Kenyan Ministry of Education.

In early July 2014 Yudith and I returned to Israel after two weeks of activities in Kenya. During the two weeks we have trained over one hundred educators including teachers, principals, and superintendents, trainers and also representatives of the students. As part of the process, schools which the senior staff was trained and they implement what was learned could become a Pioneering Center on Education for Sustainable Development. So far, we announced five pioneering centers, which area level one of the seven ranks.

Here are two stories out of dozens of which illustrate the scale of activity and change.

What can I change in just one year? This story was taken from the last training at KEMI, the central institution in Kenya for Executive Education Training.

Samuel, a kind man, is a schoolmaster at Nakuru, in 2013 came to the intensive training course in Israel.  Samuel born farmer, realized that what sustains him at home can also hold the two thousand children in his school and help their families. Within a year he established a vegetable garden of about 4 acres, nursery trees with hundreds of plants, fish pond, small barn, weather station, demonstration garden with a variety of plants, and the icing on the cake – rabbit’s nursery.

Why this rabbit’s nursery is the icing on the cake in terms of Education for Sustainable Development?

Samuel and Maureen built the rabbit’s nursery from scraps of wood, teaching the children to take care of and look after the rabbits. What happens when they reproduce? Every time there are too many rabbits a trained child gets them. They received a pair of rabbits or a pregnant one. So far, about fifty children received rabbits as part of a multi-year plan of Education for Sustainable Development in Kenya.

The following story illustrates one of many stories that show how these amazing Educators work in what some see as impossible conditions. The approach that guides us is not to give fish and rods, but challenging them to create the rods themselves. Below is a small example that illustrates this concept.

Ann & Ann Inc., two girls from eighth grade at “Big Pen” school located at Korogocho-Nairobi, demonstrated to officials from the Ministry of Education in Kenya what Education for Sustainable Development is into practice. Every week they prepare 5 Greeting Cards paper from waste paper they buy from a garbage dump. The Greeting Cards are sold at 300 Kenyan Shilling each. That is a respectable income of 1500 per week.

When we asked what they do with the money they replied:

“We are giving 500 shillings to the school kitchen to cover the costs of those who cannot afford; 600 shillings to help children who do not have pens, notebooks, cloths, etc. The money left, we pay school tuition in order to reduce the financial burden on our parents.”

To understand the nature of the change you must meet the children, see and hear them as they confidently explain their work and understanding of what they do and what they intend to do in the future. At this stage after five years the results are obvious to the schools that have implemented it; they do not receive external funds but found their internal and external resources to solve community challenges. To everyone's surprise academic achievements also were remarkably improved and that without talking into account the sense of competence and consciousness change which occurred and allowed many students to break through the glass ceiling society and they themselves have created.

The Kenyan Ministry of Education decided to promote Education for Sustainable Development as an integral part of the curriculum and training management.

Eyal Bloch

Cofounder of the Institute for Sustainable Education, David Yellin Academic College of Education.