It was important for me to draft a note that gave you an idea of why Wahjay exists. Why am I doing this?
The WHY is most difficult for me to articulate, but all of the emotions are locked in each beat of love I have for the forgotten.
I was angry when I began this organization. Frankly, I still am angry.
For your why, I have my own set of questions regarding the reason that there are able-minded children across the globe that do not have access to quality education. This answers, in part, why I am angry and why Wahjay exists.
I think that out of all the rights given to children; education is one of the most important rights.
How else does a child learn how to question and construct the type of environment that they want for themselves.
This is so cliché, but quality education is POWER.
The POWER to use your mind to interdependently frame your thoughts and make your decisions AND contribute to a community that ultimately cannot survive without a critical mass of creators like you…
Why am I angry? Who are the forgotten?
When I go to events attended by representatives of profitable organizations (i.e. eager salespeople, technical employees) that conduct business across the world, the continent of Africa is usually dimmed to indicate that no business is done in that space within that organization.
Specifically, in Liberia, we have had only ten years of peace. Ten years has not been enough time to forge a formidable foundation for education; we have run many aid-based experiments in our schools that eventually expire. The funding has been exhausted, and successful educational practices within the best schools are not scaled to benefit students from diffeeent school.
The result is forgotten, students. They sit in classes that are six columns wide and 15 rows deep of desks. The desks in the back of the classroom are so far away. I cannot imagine that all students are equally g the information that they need to make them a success in the classroom. The chalkboard is dusty, new writing is scribbled on the board but it is hardly visible to even the student in the third row.
No books. No, literally, no standard books. I was wondering WHY my Wahjay-STEM students struggled to articulate themselves on paper. Many of them have not seen the words or the standard grammar, so it is tough to judge them on their writing abilities when they have not been taught.
The result is forgotten, teachers. They stand in front of classes that are six columns wide and 15 rows deep of desks. The desks in the back of the classroom are so far away; is it possible for a teacher to effectively teach a class that size?
Training? No..yes.. maybe. Who has been trained? It is a challenge to keep training uniformed and consistent so that all teachers have access to ample information to keep their students engaged and thriving. How would a teacher know that they can take their students on field trips or have visitors in the classroom to bring context to the concepts taught? How can they reach a child creatively that has difficulty absorbing the topic at hand?
I am angry because the education system that needs so much repair is sustaining the dim light over Africa for business opportunities that local communities can contribute to once equipped with the appropriate tools.
How is Wahjay-STEM different from the aid-based organizations mentioned? As you may know, Wahjay means, for the sake of the people. The people are running this organization. The people have donated their time, money and resources to establish Wahjay.
I have been on the ground in Liberia for a total of 30+ days; the group keeps running. The program has been going on for 120 days now, the school year will end May 2017, making that 300 days that Wahjay has been running. By day 300, I would have been in Liberia for 45+ days total. That is Wahjay’s model.
We use the skill set of teachers on the ground, in the school and encourage behavior that will increase STEM learning in the classroom through approaching training patiently and persistently. We actually combine student orientation with teacher education so that the teachers are trained hands-on just like the students.
The material is scalable and not solely dependent on aid to sustain itself. Aid support for new classes is welcomed and encouraged but not receiving substantial aid year after year for the new classroom will not break the initiative.
The books can be printed out for each class, and each robot is reusable. Eight students can learn from one robot. A class of 30 students can use our coding simulator. To scale this program to a new class of 30 students (we encourage large classrooms to be split into class sizes of 30), one would need:
Each classroom is broken up into 8 teams of 3-4:
- 8 robots –2400 USD
- 8 computers –3000 USD
- 30 books – 300 USD
- Classroom printer – 1,000 USD
- Teacher bonus (based on 4 teachers 250 each) – 1,000 USD
Totaling 7,700 upfront
Second-year costs are solely reliant upon printing new books and replacing robot parts that may go missing and teacher bonus for participating in the program the following each. You may not need to replace cartridge if only books are printed once/twice a year. The return on the initial cost is acceptable:
- Teacher(based on 4 teachers 250 each) Bonus – 1,000
- 30 books – 300 USD
- Robot Parts – 200 USD
Totaling – 1,500 USD perpetual
I could go on and on, but I did not want this note to you to get too long.
Please keep your eyes open for what is to come if you want to continue to offer your support!
We are raising 20,000 USD for four students to attend VEX Worlds Competition in Louisville, KY this April 2017. We are seeking volunteers to join us at the competition to cheer on the students. We are also asking for funding. This is the part of the funding that does not decrease year after year.
To sustain the traveling initiative where our students get to compete with other students in the same program around the globe, we would have to raise this total or more each year. The costs are dependent on the number of teams we send to the World Competition and market prices of the items that we need (hotel, flights, etc.) to support the students in the World Competition.