By Holly Heil


Yesterday, I watched a TedTalk titled, “How to Fix a Broken Education System… Without Any More Money,” by Seema Bansal since I am passionate about the issue of quality education, especially for girls and women. Merely about a minute and a half into the video, I was already inspired and changing my perspective. How interesting that I can begin to question my patterns of thought in such a short amount of time.

I have long believed that global justice issues derive from access to basic competencies, especially education, and that assistance for the development of such competencies is limited by a fundamental lack of resources, including but not limited to funding. Having believed that if we could just get more funding, more donors, more resources… it’s all about funding. If we have sufficient funding and expertise, then we could definitely make significant beneficial change and create/enhance sustainable development for individuals then consequently for communities. Using education as a social justice strategy especially for girls and women seems fundamental. And then, we can hopefully expect a domino effect in the alleviation of so many other social challenges and human tragedies such as oppression, economic disadvantage, systemic poverty, suppression of women’s rights, gender violence, and so on. But then we are confronted with the challenges of     limited resources… right?

Actually, addressing major social challenges necessarily begins with passion, creativity, and innovation. The need for these essential factors can actually be more challenging than raising needed funding and other resources in achieving monumental and sustainable progress. Passion, creativity, and innovation stimulate sustainable change and can work around and within existing systems.

Funding can be an important factor but systems can be improved without additional funding and other resources. The speaker, Seema, discusses her experience with 15,000 schools in India and how they were able to create lasting improvements in the public education sector without additional funding and resources.

In order to improve education, we must be practical and realistic in working within existing systems.  Ask, what is working well and how can we build on this? Rather than seeking to change everything, we must be clear as to what is essential and what presently exists that can be built further upon.

Essentially, this approach seeks to empower existing systems as you would people. This requires an examination of strengths within existing systems and the established resources. This is where passion, innovation, and creativity become essential to the process of improving education. For example, the speaker, Seema, talks about how time and time again, the most effective way to teach children is through hands-on learning rather than mere memorization from textbooks. Therefore, Seema suggested using resources available – both outside and within the classroom to create hands on learning rather than merely buying materials to facilitate   learning.

Now that I think about it, the answer has been in front of us all along. Not to say that funding is not necessary to improve education systems. It has its place. But, funding, by itself, is not the main barrier that should be focused on and addressed. We’ve seen examples of effective teaching in the most resource-restricted environments. The delivery, and quality, of education seems even more important than the financial resources underlying them. This is demonstrated by Seema’s efforts. Today, in the schools of Haraya, India, they have the fastest growing rate of education improvement for learning outcomes of school-age children when compared to other states in the country. This is inspiring and instills hope within improving education systems – we no longer need to feel stagnated by the mere limitation of financial resources.  Our imagination, creativity, and passion can inspire hands-on learning resulting in meaningfully enhanced literacy and education. Arguably, literacy and education can do more than any other single factor in narrowing the achievement gap among the disadvantaged. Narrowing the achievement gap for the disadvantaged can significantly and sustainably advance humanity around the world.

Like Seema, United4Change Center is passionate about education since it is such a vital part of alleviating a multitude of other issues. U4C has focused its efforts on educating girls and women to help alleviate oppression and poverty and increase economic mobility especially for those in isolated communities that might otherwise go unnoticed. U4C collaborates with partner organizations in the communities it serves in working within existing systems to create sustainable change. While U4C provides funding   and resources for projects, it recognizes that passion, creativity, and innovation are fundamental to improving education.  These are human responses to human challenges – an innately synergistic   notion.

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