Toli Papadopoulos, Author at Education Matters Magazine - Page 168 of 172

Toli Papadopoulos


YGAP: Using small change to drive big change

It’s 2016 and access to education continues to be a global challenge. 1 in 5 people are unable to read or write. Over 124 million kids were denied access to education. Of those, 41 percent will never go to school. These are staggering statistics; that is over five times Australia’s population who are denied the opportunity to learn.

Across Australia, there’s over $150 million worth of five-cent coins in circulation- and it takes only a handful of these coins, just $5, for YGAP to improve access to a quality education for a child.

5 cent piece
Think the five-cent piece is worthless? YGAP has a great use for them in improving the lives of underprivileged children around the world.

YGAP is an international development not-for-profit that finds and backs early stage ventures founded by local leaders in some of the world’s toughest communities. We call these leaders impact entrepreneurs. We believe with our support they have the ability to improve the lives of one million people living in poverty by 2018.

We firmly believe that education is the solution to ending global poverty, so we started the 5cent campaign, encouraging Australians to collect small change to drive big change during the month of May. The concept of collective impact is the driving force behind YGAP’s 5cent Campaign. Individually a five-cent coin has very little value, but collectively they can achieve significant social change.

All proceeds raised by the 5cent campaign will support our local leaders removing barriers to accessing education, providing children with the resources they need to stay in school and increasing their capacity to succeed.

It probably helps to explain just how some of our impact entrepreneurs who focus on education could spend the money raised from the 5cent campaign.

  • With $5, Lyndon Galea from Eat Up Australia can provide school lunches to a partner school for a week.
  • With $25, Carol Kimari can pay for a teacher and a volunteer for the day at a library in Kenya.
  • With $45, Sharon Rapetswa could help a primary school student gain access to one year of study material, transport and lessons in South Africa.
  • With $75, Sihle Tshabalala could help a high school drop out get access to one month of technical education to ensure they get a good job in South Africa.
  • With $150, Josephine Kulea can cover 2 months of tuition for a child rescued from forced marriage in Kenya.
  • With $200, Nonhalanhla Masina could help cover 3 months of tuition costs for one student in South Africa.

By supporting 5cent, YGAP will find and support more entrepreneurs like these, making education accessible for every child.

At the 2000 Millennium Summit, the largest gathering of world leaders in history adopted the Millennium Development Goals. One of those aims was to achieve universal primary education by 2015. UNESCO reported that this would require:

  • US$16 billion
  • Two million more teachers
  • The world’s poorest countries needed almost four million new classrooms in the world’s poorest countries, to accommodate those who are not in school

While progress was made, the deadline passed and millions of children are still not in school.

The time to step up is now. Join YGAP’s 5cent movement – sign up to collect, donate or commit to five dollars a day for the month of May.

Elliot Costello is the founder of YGAP, an enterprising group of individuals dedicated to changing the lives of underprivileged people.

Child and blackboard

Study: Pattern learning underlies language development

New research shows how a child’s grasp of language is learned, while also being ‘inextricably’ linked to his or her ability to recognise patterns.

The study, produced by researchers from the University of Sydney and from Australian National University (ANU), found children who were better at identifying non-verbal patterns also tended to have a batter knowledge of grammar.

The researchers also used controls in order to take intelligence and memory into account, and still pattern recognition was strongly associated with language development.

This is of interest as the question of how some children learn faster than others has been hotly debated for centuries.

Evan Kidd is Associate Professor at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. He says the findings counter traditional theories of that aptitude for grammar in language is innate, not learnt.

“For a long time people thought of grammar as some sort of special cognitive system, like a box in our brain that we are born with, but our study shows that language proficiency is associated with learning – which helps to explain why some people pick it up faster than others,” said Professor Kidd.

“These findings are exciting because in the long-term they could help us develop strategies to assist children who may not be typically developing for their age.”

The study included a sample of 68 children aged six to eight years, assessing them with two separate tests. One test evaluated grammatical knowledge while the other was a visual pattern learning task.

“The study tells us that we have a whole lot of little statisticians running around,” said Associate Professor Joanne Arciuli, co-author of the study and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

“Unbeknownst to children themselves their brains are constantly computing these patterns or statistics – for example which words co-occur regularly, which words follow others, and different contexts in which words are used.”

As a result of the study, the Australian Research Council has provided funding for a further three-year study to be undertaken in order to investigate the underlying cognitive mechanisms of language development in children.

The findings are published in the journal, Child Development.


Federal budget 2016

Budget 2016: Mixed bag for education spending

The Federal Government has released its budget for the year ahead, announcing a total spend in education of $33.7 billion, yet not all areas of education are set to benefit.

Despite the spending, the government announced cuts of $152.2 million over four years to the Higher Education Participation Program, as well as $20.9 million over four years from the Promotions of Excellence in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Program.

By comparison the $33.7 billion in spending includes an increase of $1.2 billion of school funding, to be delivered between 2018 and 2020, as well as $118.2 million over the next two years going towards students with a disability.

As pointed our by Senior Lecturer in Education Policy at the University of Melbourne, Glenn Savage, the increase in funds falls ‘short of the $4.5 billion promised by Labor between 2018-19 as part of the Gonski reform model’.

However, the increase is nevertheless likely to be warmly received by educators who have been fearing cuts, with the government previously hinting it might cease all funding to public schools altogether.

‘The funding increase is out of step with education minister Simon Birmingham’s repeated claim that funding does not matter as much as other features of schooling such as curriculum or quality teachers. If this were truly the case, then why the funding increase?’ Savage questions in a brief letter to SBS News.

What funding does exist for schools is expected to be delivered on a needs-based plan. which may require students as young as five or six facing tests in order to determine whether they qualify for extra assistance.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said these changes have been introduced to improve student performance.

‘It is completely unacceptable that the performance of our students in fundamental skills like literacy and numeracy continues to slip even while our funding continues to significantly increase,’ Birmingham told the Sunday Telegraph.

The changes also include minimum standards for students to pass Year 12, as well as changes to teacher pay structure, with performance set to be rewarded over length of service.

Several issues have also been deferred in this budget, with higher education reform pushed back one year and little to be seen for early learning.

Treehouse design for Golden Square Primary

See a primary school campus designed by students

At Golden Square Primary School, the students can take satisfaction in knowing they had a hand in the design of their surrounds.

Following the 2009 merger of Maple Street Primary School and the original Golden Square Primary School, K2LD Architects were commissioned to design a new campus that would help bring the two student bodies together in a seamless transition.

To come up with the right concept, the architects decided to turn to the students for inspiration and, after a lot of sketching, it was collectively decided the new school should resemble a treehouse.

Situated on Maple Street in Bendigo, the new school campus was completed in June last year, with a formal opening ceremony performed last Friday.

Golden Square Bendigo
The new Golden Square Primary took its design cues from its students’ imaginations. Click to enlarge.

“Children are particularly sensitive to change, so we felt involving them in this process from the beginning would ease the transition and foster a sense of ownership over their new school,” said Golden Square Primary Principal, Barry Goode.

For K2LD Architects, this meant extensive consultation with the school community in order to create an environment in which the two former schools could be united.

“Our sessions with the students, teachers, parents and wider community allowed us to gain an appreciation for the internal dynamics at play and tailor a solution in which each group’s specific concerns were addressed and priorities met in a single expression that is at once practical and playful,” said K2LD Principal, Tisha Lee.

“We were amazed at the intensity and passion of the children; their ideas blew us away and the resulting ‘treehouse’ theme didn’t require any art of suggestion from our end, it was absolutely their own concept.”

The new school’s masterplan consists of a central administration and specialist building that houses reception, office, art, library and staff facilitiies, which is then flanked by two double storey buildings, containing four ‘learning communities’.

These learning communities includes four homerooms clustered around a central collaborative space, with additional staff resources and meeting rooms in each.

The two storey nature of the school buildings allows for a greater student capacity than was available previously, and also plays into the treehouse concept envisaged by the students.

“The added height feeds into our treehouse concept, allowing us to get creative with ‘trunk’ and ‘canopy’ inspired levels, whilst the withdrawal spaces offered an opportunity to create play ‘cubby’ spaces,” Lee said.

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