More than 50 of CODE’s most loyal supporters braved the humidity last week to attend CODE’s annual donor reception - held this year at the beautifully renovated allsaints community space in Sandy Hill. The reception date, Thursday September 8th, was very à propos as it marked the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s International Literacy Day and the launch of the new Global Education Monitoring Report.
Scott Walter, CODE’s Executive Director, hosted the evening and paid special tribute to one of CODE’s most generous donors, William “Bill” Burt. Mr. Burt became involved with CODE in 2007 after taking part in its 2007 Seeing is Believing Tour to Ethiopia. Upon his return from that trip, Bill became a devoted and exceptionally generous CODE supporter. His first order of business? To help CODE get engaging books into the hands of young adults. In 2008, The Burt Award for African Literature was launched in Tanzania to recognise excellent, engaging and culturally relevant books. Burt Award programs for three more African countries soon followed. There are now Burt Award programs for Caribbean Literature and, most recently, First Nations, Inuit and Métis Literature.
Poor health prevented Mr. Burt from receiving the CODE Director’s Award but accepting it on his behalf were dignitaries from three countries in which the Burt Award program has made a tremendous impact -- namely Ms. Ukubi Hanfere Mohammed, First Secretary, public diplomacy of the Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Mr. Paul James Makelele from the Tanzanian High Commission, and Dr. Sulley Gariba –High Commissioner to Ghana.
Other attendees included CODE board member Rosamaria Durand, long-time CODE member and donor, Gwynneth Evans, and Afreenish Yusirah –CODE’s new CODE on Campus representative from Carleton University.
The event was also an opportunity for CODE to acknowledge 25 years of partnership with its UNESCO award-winning partners the Children’s Book Project of Tanzania and Associação Progresso of Mozambique.
The event concluded with the exciting announcement of CODE’s 2017 Seeing is Believing –Ghana tour. His Excellency, Dr. Sulley Gariba, High Commissioner to Ghana, personally extended an invitation to the audience promising participants a very warm welcome to his country. The tour, set to begin on February 15th 2017, will provide participants with the opportunity to visit children and teachers engaged in CODE’s programming in schools in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
“I want my legacy to inspire future generations to achieve their highest potential and through CODE I know that will be possible.” -Gwynneth Evans
Communication is at the heart of all our relationships. And human beings are fortunate to have many and varied ways to communicate and connect with one another. Communication allows us to tell our stories.
The possibility of fostering relationships and the joy and pleasure of reading have prompted me to leave funds to CODE in my Will.
Having witnessed and taken part in the transfer of knowledge and skills since the late 60s in sub-Saharan Africa, I can speak personally of the transformation of individuals and communities when they are given the opportunity to read and write. I still remember my first weeks of teaching in Uganda and our need to find common ground, in order to learn from one another.
As we attempt collectively to address very urgent questions for our planet and our world, it is important that young people are engaged and recognize that they, too, can make a difference in reaching the goals and plans of future generations. Books and the joy of learning are fundamental to our future. Communication brings us together and stimulates learning and our imaginations.
This LEAVE A LEGACY™ month, I encourage you to think about what you want your legacy to be.
by Scott Walter, CODE Executive Director
Along with CODE's Director of International Programs, Hila Olyan, and CODE Youth Representative, Stephanie Ferrao — I had the pleasure of attending the parliamentary address of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai as she received her honorary Canadian citizenship on April 12th. I have heard Malala speak before but left feeling more impressed than ever. Her message is clear and concise and spoken with humble conviction and self-assuredness, making it all the more forceful. In fact she couldn’t have been more explicit in terms of what she saw as a fundamental solution to the world’s problems. Education first, education for all!
International Development Minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau provided a few comments to The Hill Times following Malala's speech:
“She’s asking us to focus on girls’ education, and we will,” said International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau (Compton-Stanstead, Que.), speaking in the foyer of the House after Ms. Yousafzai’s speech. “Women and girls will be at the heart of the new policy and we strongly believe in education,” she added, speaking about the government’s international assistance policy review, the results of which are expected to be released before the summer. The minister said it’s currently in the “writing phase,” and would not comment on whether the policy will include an increase in funding.
Seems like Minister Bibeau heard her as well. Given the Policy paper is still ‘in the writing phase’, maybe "Malalamania" will have an impact on what it ultimately says about education.
When you support CODE, you support education for all!
At CODE we are so fortunate to work with some incredible volunteers. One of these amazing people is Rick Wilks.
Rick transformed Canada’s literary landscape in 1976 when he co-founded Annick Press Ltd. – one of the most cutting edge and innovative publishers of books for children and young adults.
Rick supports CODE programs in country where he conducts workshops with local writers and publishers - offering guidance and expertise.
In Rick’s own words:
“I have followed CODE activities for many years, motivated by my interest in development through literacy and reading. I’m convinced that a society that encourages and promotes reading, especially among its youth, will become a more socially cohesive community where citizens enjoy a higher level of achievement and are more actively involved in civil society.”
“CODE is committed to my great passion: the building of a writing and publishing culture so that nations have a strong sense of who they are. Most importantly, if a culture recognizes itself in its literature, youth are better prepared to face the challenges of finding their place in society and functioning as healthy, contributing citizens.”
Thank you, Rick for all you do to support CODE’s work with local authors and publishers!
CODE’s Director of International Programs, Hila Olyan, and Firas Elfarr, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, participated in The Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Annual Meeting in Atlanta Georgia from March 5-9, 2017.
CODE's Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, Firas Elfarr presenting at CIES 2017.
CODE expert-volunteer, Dr. Charles Temple speaking to attendees at CIES 2017.
CODE gave two presentations – Reading CODE - Assessing a Comprehensive Readership Initiative in Tanzania (with CODE expert-volunteer Charles Temple co-presenting) and Reading Kenya Breaks New Ground in Literacy Education in Kajiado County – presented by CODE's Kenyan experts Dr. Adelheid Bwire from Kenyatta University and Dr. George Andima from Kisii University.
Dr. Adelheid Bwire from Kenyatta University in Nairobi presenting at CIES 2017.
Dr. George Andima from Kisii University in Kenya speaking at CIES 2017.
The CIES was founded in 1956 to foster cross-cultural understanding, scholarship, academic achievement and societal development through the international study of educational ideas, systems, and practices. The Society’s members include over 3000 academics, students, practitioners, and policymakers from around the world.
CODE was very pleased to hear Deputy Director of Education for Global Affairs Canada, Julia Dicum, mention CODE’s Reading Kenya program in her presentation.
For more info about CIES visit www.cies2017.org/cies-2017/
By: Heloísa Modesto, CODE Programme Manager and Gender Specialist
“I decided to become a teacher because I like to share my knowledge with others.” -Isaquiel Vicente
What a surprise to discover that Isaquiel Vicente - a teacher I met today at the IFP Joaquim Chisane in Pemba, Cabo Delgado, had years before attended an elementary school I had visited in the district of Montepuez back in 2001! Isaquiel, now 21, is the perfect example of young Mozambican who has benefited from the long-term commitment of CODE, with Associação Progresso, and the Canadian Government supporting primary education in Cabo Delgado in Mozambique.
Isaquiel was a primary student at Escola Completa de Alto Gingone, at a time when the education system in Mozambique was expanding rapidly as it tried to meet the Education For All Millenium Development Goals. At that time, CODE and Progresso - with funds from a bilateral project funded by Canada - supported in-service training as the high demand for teachers had left the government with no choice but to hire untrained teachers.
Our initiative also promoted the development of local, mother-tongue children’s books in Mozambique and created school libraires. In a country where often student teachers have never had access to children books themselves, I was very excited to find out that Isaquiel had read several children books, and his favourite book was Ladrão de Tesouros, from Machado da Graça – a book that was published as part of the national literature contexts and provided to his primary school by our former project in Cabo Delgado.
Isaquiel explained: “I decided to become a teacher because I like to share my knowledge with others” and by being a reader, Isaquiel will surely have much more to share with Mozambican primary students in the coming years. In his first month attending the teacher education program, Isaquiel was a finalist in the reading competitions promoted through the BETTER Project, which CODE and country partner Associação Progresso are implementing in his IFP to improve initial teacher education in Mozambique.
On March 4th the IFP Alberto Chipande in Pemba, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique hosted the launch of a collection of 26 titles, involving 6 languages. This initiative is an important part of BETTER - as it supports the creation of concept books and books for emergent readers from initial primary classes.
Approximately 400 people attended the event — including government representatives, teacher educators, student teachers, primary students, teachers and parents.
The highlight was a reading competition in which 18 children from grades 2 to 7 indulged and inspired the audience with a varied array of short stories. The IFP student teachers animated the event with group and individual art performances.
The Global Affair’s Canada funded BETTER program (Better Education through Teacher Training and Empowerment for Results) is being implemented by CODE together with Associação Progresso and the Mozambican Ministry of Education and Human Development in four of Mozambique’s 12 provinces. The program is also generously supported by Mozambique LNG.
“How can we get more tablets?”
By Hila Olyan, CODE Director of International Programs
“How many people have used a tablet before?” asks the facilitator. One person raises their hand. “How many people have used a smart phone?” This time 6 hands go up.
There are 23 librarians around the table. It is the third day of librarian training in Addis Ababa. The librarians have come from across the country as part of CODE’s Reading Ethiopia / Beyond Access program.
The project is a joint effort by CODE, CODE-Ethiopia and IREX to pilot an improved set of services at community libraries. In particular, the project aims to improve access to supplementary reading materials in local languages; create opportunities for children, youth and their families to practice reading and writing; and strengthen parental and community engagement to support literacy.
The program has been ongoing in various iterations for more than 15 years but this time we’ve decided to get a little more innovative: we’re introducing technology (tablets) into the program to further increase literacy and support readers of all ages. Custom apps in Amharic and Afaan Oromo have been put on the tablets – and librarians are learning to use them for the first time.
To begin with the training is hard. Getting the hang of a touchscreen is a new experience for just about everyone. Desktop is a new term. Drag and drop is a new action. Uploading, downloading, USB cable – there are no shortage of new concepts.
Admittedly I start to worry. Perhaps we’ve been too optimistic. Can we really teach the librarians all they’ll need to know before they head home? We’ve got two and half days to move from ‘never seen a tablet’ to ‘in-house tablet expert.’ It is clear the next few days will be busy.
Turning it on is easy. Swiping right, that’s a little trickier. There’s the volume and the back light. It takes practice but its clear the librarians can handle that too. Then we move onto the apps. To begin with there will be three that were custom made. One for beginning readers. A second which starts to look at word recognition. Then there is story app.
Not only are the librarians able to navigate the apps (with our guidance), but it’s clear they are enjoying this. They are trying out the headsets, they are getting the hang of the camera (yes, there were selfies), but most importantly they are eager to explore all of the functions.
The day comes to an end. We send each librarian home for the evening.
Early the next morning we meet at the National Archives and Library Agency. It’s clear everyone has been practicing. It’s not clear that anyone has slept.
Every librarian has their tablet in hand. All of them have figured out the cameras and plan to take a video of the library to show their communities back home.
“Have you been trying the apps?” I ask one of the women.
“Of course.” She smiles. “I stayed up late practicing."
“What did you think?” I follow up.
“How can we get more tablets?” she asks, “I think they will be very popular.”
Fifty years ago, UNESCO officially proclaimed September 8th International Literacy Day (ILD) to actively mobilize the international community and to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies.
We’re proud to say CODE recognized that literacy mattered almost a decade before it became a UNESCO initiative - starting off as donated books program in a church basement and evolving into one of Canada’s leading literacy-focused international development organization.
Much of our success can be attributed to the strong partnerships we have developed over the years. We're particularly proud of the 25 years working alongside two UNESCO-award winning partners: Associação Progresso in Mozambique and The Children’s Book Project in Tanzania.
While reading this please take a moment to reflect on how literacy enhances your life. Together we can make sure every child in the world can learn to read & write.
Parents around the world share a common and unwavering truth; a wish for what is best for their children.
As schools open this month, parents in Liberia, as with all of our partner countries, will hope to see their children attend school. However, in a country that emerged from two civil wars back-to-back and most recently survived an Ebola crisis, the need for educating children has never been more important.
As Hawa makes her way to her first day of kindergarten with her mother, it is an exceptionally meaningful moment. Her mother left school in grade 4 never to return. She can barely read and write. She has greater hope for her daughter.
And, given that girls continue to face greater challenges, her teacher, as with all others in our programs, will learn how to improve gender equality. Another critical element that will improve Hawa’s chances for success.
CODE will be there with her along the way. As we continue to work with our partners, such as the We-Care Foundation in Liberia, we will ensure that Hawa’s teacher will receive important training. She will learn how to focus more on her students in how she teaches reading and writing.
But as we focus on helping teachers to become better, we also know that they require essential tools, such as books. Books that will excite Hawa and her friends and inspire their learning.
Imagine how important it is for a child’s learning to open a book and see pictures that look like their reality. That tell stories that they can relate to with words that have meaning for them. And in many of CODE’s programs, books that are written in a child’s own language.
Your gift today can help place culturally reflective books into the hands of young children like Hawa; many of whom have never held a book before. You can help create the excitement to learn.
Last year alone, with your help, we were able to help train more than 2,800 teachers and librarians, help provide reading materials to over 1,300 schools, libraries and community centres, and inject over 400,000 books into learning environments in 15 countries around the world. That is impressive!
As this school year begins, I hope you will join me in helping children like Hawa and her teacher get off to a great start – in spite of so many other challenges they face. We hope that as she learns to read and write that, maybe, she will bring her newfound knowledge and abilities home and read to her mother, making her proud.
Director, Fund Development & Marketing