Is human consumption of resources exceeding limits on environmental capacity on a global scale? Yes, argues Daniel Greenberg—and there are living examples of how to organize communities differently, so as to live sustainably on the planet. Greenberg is the Executive Director of Living Routes, located in Amherst. Living Routes organizes study abroad programs for undergraduate students to live, work, and stuy in eco-villages. Greenberg introduced the Living Routes program and showed images of eco-village life during a presentation at the Center meeting in February. Eco-villages are communities dedicated to reducing their resource consumption and living more harmoniously—with the local environment and with other people. Studying in eco-villages, Living Routes students gain experiential understanding of concepts such as permaculture, human ecology, holistic living, and participatory democracy. Greenberg pointed out that eco-villages can be found in both the North and South. He showed examples from Scotland, India, Senegal, and the United States. Within their own contexts, these communities experiment with alternative modes of development and environmentally-sensitive strategies for construction, food production, and energy use. Fro Greenberg, eco-villages are models of a “new story” which is necessary for the ultimate survival of human societies on a limited and fragile planet.
In February 2005, CIE welcomed visitors from the Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB), a state mandated examination board that prepares and administers nationwide examinations in the country. The board develops credentialing, selection, and aptitude examinations for public as well as private schools, teachers' colleges, and organizations. In efforts to learn how their colleagues cope with challenges ranging from security to efficient service delivery, MANEB's Executive Director: Mathew Matemba, Director of Computer Services: Michael Nkhoma, and Director of Examinations: David Yadidi visited UMass as well as various testing and measurement institutions in the United States and Canada. Visits included Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, New Jersey and National Examination Systems (NES) in Amherst, as well as the Research and Evaluation Methods Program (REMP) at UMass where the group attended a seminar on The Fundamentals of Testing with Professor Steve Sireci. After collaborating ideas and exchanging knowledge with other experts in the field, the group returned to Malawi with new ideas and direction for its role in upgrading and developing the skills of testing and measurement professionals currently working in MANEB, as well as improving the quality of the examinations and the fairness of their dissemination and scoring.
MANEB works in partnership with CIE, the University of Malawi at Chancellor's College, and the Ministry of Education of Malawi as part of a five-year project funded by USAID.
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Roger Hart returned to CIE for a presentation and discussion in a Tuesday meeting during October 2004. Originally a geographer, his specialty is studying environment's affect on children's growth, learning and development. Presently he is heading a project working with doctoral candidates at City College in New York monitoring a program for children who live in civil war plagued areas of Colombia. The primary objective of the project is to enhance children's role as participants in building democratic societies. His talk began with an explanation of his political philosophy of equal participation and opportunity across class, gender and age boundaries. Children especially should be involved in local government, and specifically in Colombia, he says, “The only hope they have… is to reconstruct a new society based on children's role as participating citizens.” In order to accomplish real community-based improvements Hart explained that in Colombia, where politics are widely influenced by the US model, the lower levels of government need to be better organized and have more access to power and decision-making. In Colombia in the last two decades, violence has escalated, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, over a million people have been displaced, and children are continuing to be recruited for fighting. Without the basic necessities, social networks, or community-based governments, people of poorer classes sometimes have no choice but to fight in order to eat. Hart and the doctoral candidates will collaborate with a handful of Colombian preschool teachers as part of an effort to repatriate displaced children who have been involved in violence. The program, he says, is a kind of therapy that aims to involve children directly in the healing process by treating them as active agents of democracy and community-based governance. The program's basic philosophy is that democracy begins at home. To encourage the children to reflect on and explain where they come from and how their environment affects them, they use “representational competency” in the classroom. The teachers ask their students to narrate their home lives using role-playing games and book-making projects where they illustrate their own autobiographies. It also relies heavily on parent involvement and awareness, as well as the children, to encourage the democracy-building process to start in the home. They work closely with parents and even pay visits to each home with the entire class. This approach, known as protagonismo , a Freirean-based movement, engages children in becoming aware of their own history and current situation in hopes of making them active members of civil society.
In planning, implementing, and improving the project, children, family, and teachers must all participate equally. Hart uses a less traditional approach to evaluation - he engages them in dialogue, listens to them, and asks questions. This process helps them clarify their goals and conceptualize the program's framework.
First Tuesday Meeting - September 7th
Policy, Planing and Finance Training Program
for Malawian Educators
CIE welcomes four staff members from the Planning section of the Ministry of Education in Malawi for a semester-long, non-degree training institute in Policy, Planning and Finance. The four will take classes in Education Policy and in Education Finance, Monitoring and Evaluation, participate in a special seminar, and join a variety of other CIE activities before returning to their posts in the Ministry of Education. While here they will initiate projects that they will implement on their return. The four participants are profiled below. Grace Milner currently serves as the Senior Planning Officer under the Sub Section of the Strategic Planning Division of the Ministry of Education in Malawi where she lives with her husband and four children. After receiving a Bachelor's degree from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College and certificate for Applied Linguistics at the University of Besancon, France, Grace has worked in various positions including a secondary school teacher, Sub-component Manager for the Government of Malawi UNDP 5 th Country Program responsible for primary education, Coordinator for a secondary school Girls' Scholarship Scheme funded by USAID, Researcher and Evaluation Officer in the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit of the Ministry of Education's Planning Department, and Deputy National Coordinator of the southern Africa Consortium for Monitoring and Evaluation Quality (SACMEQ). While studying at the Center for International Education, Grace will assess the Quality of Basic Education in Malawi: A Comparative Study with other Sub Sahara African Statesas a special project that she will use upon her return to Malawi. Tinkhani Msonda is an economist for the Ministry of Education Science and Technology of Malawi. Tinkhani received his Bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College. He has worked with the Environmental Affairs Department and as a Research Assistant for waste management in Lilongwe, Malawi.
At the Center for International Education, Tinkhoni will conduct a special project relevant to his work with the Ministry of Education in Malawi entitled: Budget Devolution in the Ministry of Education, Malawi: Is there a Way Forward?
Chikondi Maleta is an Economist for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Malawi. After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Economics from the University of Malawi, Chikondi worked with O&M Consulting Ltd and as an Assistant Manager for Farmers World. Chikondi is regularly featured as a guest contributor for the Nation Newspaper. He has written numerous articles including: “Sexism in Rural Development” and “Malawi Economy at Crossroads.”While studying at CIE, Chikondi will focus on The University of Malawi's Strategic Plan: Contextual Issues for a project that will be pertinent to his work in Malawi.
Themba Chirwa is an economist for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Malawi. He received his Bachelors' Degree in Economics from the University of Malawi, Chancellor's College and has worked in Industrial Attachment for the First Merchant Band Limited.During his time at CIE , Themba will conduct a special project relevant to his work with the Ministry of Education in Malawi entitled: Developing a Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research System for the Education Sector in Malawi: A Framework for the Ministry of Education.
Annual Fall Retreat at Camp Bement