Consultation Findings: Edmonds Community College

Back in May, Edmonds Community College in Washington State hosted “Education Around the World” — a conversation about the importance of global education with five international students from the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program. Together, they shared their perspectives on the future of education in their respective countries and why world leaders need to increase their commitment to providing quality education to more children and youth in developing countries, especially girls. The international student panelists included: Isabeau Malan of South Africa, Maad Yassin of Yemen, Eunice Arkoh of Ghana, Jaya Gulo of Indonesia, and Nosheen Akhtar of Pakistan. The panel was moderated by Vijay Kumar of Pakistan.

Nosheen Akhtar explained that in Pakistan there are many barriers preventing kids from attending school, particularly for girls. Much of it depends on the financing and funding for education. For example, many schools in Pakistan do not have chairs or classrooms. Students are left sitting on the floor, which is a tough environment for students to learn in. In certain parts of the country, corporal punishment in schools is still acceptable. And despite the major benefits of investing and prioritizing education, leaders in Pakistan have not acted effectively.

Isabeau Malan from South Africa discussed how in her country rote learning and regurgitation are still being used to teach and evaluate students. She explained how she and her classmates are often required to answer exam questions exactly the way they are written in textbooks, word for word. Malan emphasized that schools should offer more flexible and interesting curriculums and teaching methods.

Maad Yassin discussed the challenges of realizing quality education for all in his home country of Yemen. He spoke about how it was difficult to imagine the future of education and school in Yemen given the turmoil that the country is in. As Yassin explained, “We don’t have classrooms, schools, and even homes to live in.” Yassin’s comments highlighted the very real challenges of trying to access education in conflict-affected countries and environments.

Eunice Arkoh talked about the inadequate responses from Ghana’s leaders to problems plaguing education in the country. According to Eunice, the issues include a lack of motivation from both families and teachers to push for a better education system and corruption by government and business leaders in the use of funds allocated to education. In addition, weak government policies and plans for education also exacerbate existing problems. Arkoh believes that one of the solutions is for the government to engage young people, parents, local community members, and other stakeholders in policymaking related to education.

Jaya Gulo of Indonesia discussed strategies that have improved access to quality education. These include: applying more effective methods of instruction, equal opportunities for girls, improving technology and school facilities, emphasizing the value of education and promoting community engagement. Gulo suggested that countries, including his, should learn from previous successes in improving education in other countries.

All the panelists agreed that education is the single most important thing that can change someone’s life, enrich the broader community, and bring hope for a better world.

A video of the consultation may be found here.

Jaya Setiawan Gulo is the founder of Amerindo and Anak Medan. He is currently studying project management at Edmonds Community College on a U.S. Department of State scholarship through the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI).