Tapping Our Trans-Local Potential for Change

This post was written by Chloë Straw, Project Research Assistant.

This Wednesday, SFU’s public engagement series “Engaging Diaspora in Development” presents its latest public dialogue. This event is called “Education for Development”, and the program is shaping up to be a lively evening, showcasing the many ways diaspora-led efforts support education as an engine for change and development in the Global South.

Hearing from members of the diaspora—that is people and communities that have retained an attachment to their homeland or region through family history or culture—will serve to explore how local efforts here in Metro Vancouver are supporting local efforts in the Global South.

As Shaheen Nanji, SFU’s project co-director puts it, “The people leading these educational initiatives are Canadians – perhaps first, second or third generation—who are living and working here in Metro Vancouver. They are using their knowledge of the “local” scene worlds away and are driven by their passion to help improve the lives of others in the Global South.”

Using the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a starting point, participants will explore and debate how education empowers people and strengthens nations. We will hear the stories of individuals like Omar Kayman, who are working tirelessly to deliver opportunities for a brighter future for the children of Afghanistan. James Kamau will tell us how his years playing elite basketball in Kenya inspired him to found Youth Initiative Canada and reach out to young people in communities fraught with drugs, violence and poverty. Joselyne John will speak about the realities of young people living in refugee camps and what education means to them.

We’ll hear from Jamaican-born Ph.D. candidate and dancer Randolph-Dalton Hyman who is using traditional African dance as an educational and cultural tool for social change and explore grassroots initiatives for strengthening student success in mathematics in South Africa. These and other storytellers are sure to engage and inspire, leading the way to a thoughtful discussion of current educational initiatives and what Canadians can do to support them.

As Dr. Joanna Ashworth, the project’s other co-director says, “It’s time that Metro Vancouver residents woke up to the incredible force for good that is the diaspora who are committing time, energy and creativity to support solutions to economic and social struggles in the Global South. Individually their stories are inspiring and collectively they add up to a formidable force for positive change in the world. Canadians of all backgrounds and origins needs to recognize and support these heroic efforts to help.” What questions do you have? What stories would you like to share about the transformative power of education?

Wednesday, May 18th from 6:30 to 9:00pm at SFU’s Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

Free to the public, but pre-registration is required here.

Funding support provided by the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and presented by Simon Fraser University, with community partners CUSO-VSO and the BC Council for International Education.


Comments on: "Public Dialogue: Educational Strategies for Development Through the Eyes of the Diaspora" (2)

  1. Henry Mwandemere said:

    The dialogue on educational strategies for development underscores the important role of development policy in poverty alleviation, improving health, and education strategies. Human wit and will (knowledge and entrepreneurship) are fundamental in development. Better educated people though needed most by poor countries, it is not enough for economic development. What is important is to simultaneously provide a flow of educated people and also jobs/employment. Addressing only the supply side results in educating for migration. According to the African Union(AU) 20,000 university professional staff leave Africa annually, this is in addition to health (13, 272) and other technical and scientific staff. There is need to address the causes rather than the symptoms of lack of economic development.

    Challenges facing Africa include adult literacy, early child care and education, poor school learning environment, scarcity of teachers, lack of adequate and sustainable funding, and gender disparity in education.

    • Dear Henry:
      You make important points – that education policy must be integrated within a larger vision of a society that invests in people through policies that foster healthy communities, decent and dignified livelihoods and resilient and engaged citizens.

      There are some powerful examples from jurisdictions within Sri Lanka that I am aware of. These approaches are being driven in part by the VanLanka Foundation based here in BC with leadership from members of the Sri Lankan diaspora.

      Sharing such innovative approaches are essential to continuous learning about making change happen.

      I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this and other related themes that were raised at the dialogue on May 18.

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