July 15, 2013

The Question of Development and Education: Is there a correlation?

I was asked to answer a question, regarding the impact of education for girls in the Congo (and Africa at large) on the process of development. I wanted to share it because I think can be applied everywhere, and concerns all of us as "global citizens" in some way. Here was the question, and below is my (long) answer:

"What impact does educating girls have on the development of Congo? - According to the World Bank, 30% of all primary school students in the world graduate without the ability to read or write. How best do you think we can fix broken education systems in Africa?"

"I am glad to provide you with my opinion. Nevertheless, I can only answer your question from a personal standpoint, and as a student who is earning her B.A. Hons. in International Development Studies. I believe first and foremost that institutional education is an important part of cultivating a person's skills and abilities, in order to become competent and valued in westernized (or westernizing) societies. It opens up opportunities, and it develops a person's sense of worldliness. In terms of the relationship between education and development; it is an ambiguous concept because education and development can (and are) interpreted differently across cultural surroundings. If we are to be specific, in questioning the importance of formal institutional education in directly producing development, comprised of economic, social and political factors within the Congolese capitalist realm of society, then yes I believe it is important. This is because the Congo is not a country that can escape westernization or even globalization; it possesses too many valuable resources from a consumerist standpoint to be left without intentional development. Therefore, basic education at the very least is required for a person to be included and to become competent in that sort of society.

Now to answer your original question; educating girls in the Congo will benefit them based on what I explained above. They will become more cultivated and appreciated as a result of the requirements and expectations of society. However, education will not necessarily guarantee development beyond the realm of internal personal growth. This is because development itself, as I mentioned, consists of different facets. A person may become sophisticated as a result of education, but not be able to maintain a livelihood. The Congo is not socially developed to the point that it offers various and unquestioned opportunities for ordinary people to gain economic development, and to be able to sustain themselves, after acquiring an education. In a country like Canada or the United States, however, people have the comfort of knowing that different levels of education usually provide different opportunities for development.

I am, consequently, not so much specifically interested in the impact that the education of girls may have on development in the Congo, as much as I am interested in developing a society where their education guarantees them opportunities for economic development, at the very least. There are many people who are highly educated in the Congo, yet who continue to live in economic poverty, which is detrimental to the development of other parts of their lives. The Congolese government does not at large create subsidies for the different areas of civil society, so without economic means ordinary people cannot have access to basic necessities such as health care or even education. Therefore, for me, your question becomes more about development as a whole, rather than just the correlation between education and development; as education is an actual part of development from a western perspective."

April 17, 2013

Hands for the Heart has an Official Logo and Website! + Updates on upcoming things!

This has been a long time coming! My charity organization Hands for the Heart not only has an official logo, but its website has officially been completed as well! I encourage each and every one of you to visit it, in order to see all of our accomplishments thus far, and what we are doing in the future. The address is the following: http://www.handsfortheheart.org Don't forget to support our causes and to donate whatever you can. Every cent counts. Moreover, you can click here to visit our Events page, to see what we have coming in the near future. I'm very excited to announce that A Night for the Change, A Night for the Congo: 2013 will be happening! I wasn't sure if I would ever want to do event planning again, after what happened leading up to the fundraiser, in October 2012. However, my cause is something that I believe in wholeheartedly, and it is important to keep pushing through hurdles in order to accomplish big, amazing things. School is over for the summer, so I have plenty of time to do everything and anything. Keep up to date with us, because the date of the fundraiser will be announced very soon. Woohoo!

Afrobeat X Gala and Cultural Show

This post has been a long time coming, but with the stress of exams and final assignments at school, I haven't been able to focus on much else. Anyway, on March 23rd, I attended U of T's African Students Association's (ASA) Gala, and I had so much fun. First of all, the venue looked great, it was intimate, yet elegant and well decorated. The evening consisted first of a pre-show/cocktail hour, with some hors d'oeuvres and a showcase of two fashion designers. I've included some pictures below.
Tracey K Designs
Wild Moon Jewellery

Afterwards, the show began. It entailed a lineup of entertainers such as instrument players, dancers, a spoken word artist (Dwayne Morgan), and a Christian rapper (Emjoy). The music played by the DJ was on point, and the hosts did quite well too. Another person to hit the stage, was myself! I was asked by the organizers to give a small speech about myself and my organization, so after dinner, I went up to speak. My speech was to be recorded so I could share it on the blog, but unfortunately, it didn't happen too well. There will always be next time though, so I'm not too disappointed. Overall, I truly enjoyed myself at this event, I think that the ASA team did a great job showcasing different the cultural aspects of Africa. Moreover, I was very touched to know that they plan on donating the proceeds of their show, to my charity organization Hands for the Heart. I give them a round of applause. *Click Here for more pictures*