Schools blog

ActionAid's schools team share teaching resources and tools to help you bring development and global poverty issues into the classroom.

New teaching and fundraising resources: Ramotili's Story

Lucy McDonnell's picture Posted by Lucy McDonnellEducation Project Officer
 
Ramotili Raamkoini
Ramatoli lives in Lesotho. This World Food Day, learn how his family are adapting to crop failure.
Photo: Eva-Lotta Jansson/ActionAid

With World Food Day coming up on 16 October, now is the perfect time to explore the challenges of growing food around the world with your class. 

Use our new set of teaching and fundraising materials to introduce your pupils to 12-year-old Ramotili from Lesotho and his family, who are struggling to grow enough food to eat.

In Lesotho, the majority of families rely on farming to make money and produce their own food, but crops have failed for three years in a row. ActionAid is supporting local people to adapt their farming techniques to cope with extreme and unpredictable weather conditions.

This includes training families to use different kinds of gardening techniques like pot holing, trench gardens and keyhole gardens which protect crops from the elements.

VIDEO: 'Voices from Syria' - Secondary teaching resource

Vaila McClure's picture Posted by Vaila McClureEducation Project Officer: Content
 

In this new video resource, pupils can hear - first-hand - what it's like to live in a refugee camp, from Syrian refugee Reem. ActionAid staff Gazal and Hannah join the discussion to talk about how ActionAid supports refugees through first-aid and vocational training.

Reem - a Syrian refugee in Jordan - joins ActionAid's Gazal and Hannah in sharing their stories of the challenges facing those living and working in Zaatari Refugee Camp, northern Jordan in 'Voices from Syria'.

Read the transcript of the video 'Voices from Syria'

Watch the video with your class and then use the questions below to debate issues facing those involved with the Syrian crisis.

Questions to consider and/or debate with your class

  1. What do you think is the short-term and long-term impact of having your education disrupted by conflict?
  2. Consider yourself in two situations in Zaatari refugee camp: a refugee, and an aid worker. What would your priorities be? Think about the factors affecting life in the camp given in the video. Are there any similarities?
  3. Rents and food prices have risen sharply in Jordan since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. Is this justifiable? Why do you think that?
  4. What do you think would be the outcome if refugees were allowed to work while living in Jordan?

New teaching resource - Children in Conflict: Syria

Vaila McClure's picture Posted by Vaila McClureEducation Project Officer: Content
 
Learn more about the life of Israa - a 13-year-old Syrian refugee
Meet 13-year-old Syrian refugee Israa
Photo: Jenny Matthews/ActionAid

As the number of people fleeing Syria to escape the civil war reaches two million, ActionAid has published a teaching resource. It encourages pupils to compare and contrast their lives with that of a young Syrian girl living with her family in Zaatari Refugee Camp, northern Jordan.

In the resource, thirteen-year-old Israa describes what it was like growing up in Syria and how her life has drastically changed with the outbreak of civil war in 2011. Pupils then put themselves in Israa's shoes by writing a newspaper article or blog post about her story.

Year 6 pupils at Wilbury Primary School in north London used the resource with their teacher Ms Gilbert before the summer holidays.

ActionAid is working with refugee families like Israa's in Jordan and Lebanon to ensure that they have access to much-needed clothing, hygiene kits and household items. ActionAid will also be providing psychological support - and helping families deal with the emotional impact of experiencing civil war and being forced to leave their homes.

Sadly, it's not just in Syria where children are affected by the trauma of experiencing war. This is why ActionAid has launched the Children in Conflict fundraising campaign. It highlights the need to support children whose lives have been damaged by conflict. 

Whether it's access to clean water, food and life-saving medicines, or a chance to continue with their education, just £15 a month will help a child rebuild their life.

Follow the conversation on the Children in Conflict #REBUILD campaign on Twitter.

VIDEO: 15-year-old takes the Department for Education to task on climate change

I'm Anna Budzynska and I teach Geography teacher Geography teacher Geography. Not in my wildest dreams did I expect one of my pupils to start changing the world whilst they were still in the classroom, but Esha Marwaha is no ordinary 15-year-old... 

The Year 11 student from Hounslow has been motivated by proposed changes to the Geography national curriculum to set up a petition, blog for The Guardian, appear in a YouTube video - and turn up on the doorstep of the Department of Education hassling ministers to listen to her.

Esha is concerned that Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, and the Department for Education are planning to remove climate change from the Geography curriculum for Key Stages 1-3 (children up to the age of 14).

Esha’s petition has so far attracted over 30,000 signatures and last month she took part in a joint hand-in of petitions with over 65,000 signatures.

Sign Esha's petition to keep climate change in the classroom

Although the Department for Education stated in April that climate change is specifically mentioned in the science curriculum, MPs Ed Davey and Luciana Berger are the most recent high-profile names to express concern about climate change being left out of the Geography curriculum.

Making the world a better place 

As a Geography teacher, I see my job as being more than helping students get good exam results. I am passionate about my subject and want to pass on that enthusiasm to my students. Teaching students about the issues facing today’s world can mean that they grow up to be responsible citizens and - with a bit of luck - do something to make the world a better place.

How can one of the most serious issues facing the planet not even make it onto the list of essential topics for students to learn in school? Climate change will not only affect future generations, but is already impacting on the lives of millions of people across the world.

Unsurprisingly, it is people who are the most vulnerable to - and the least responsible for - climate change that are already feeling the worst effects of changing weather patterns. A recent article in The Guardian highlighted how climate change is behind growing food shortages and the resulting political instability in less economically developed countries.

Failing to teach young people about such a crucial issue is irresponsible - and it destroys the best weapon that we have against climate change - education.

Act now to keep climate change in the Geography curriculum 

>> Sign Esha's petition and teach about climate change using our free downloadable 'PowerDown' resources

On the lookout for 100 schools to join the Solar Schools scheme

Lucy McDonnell's picture Posted by Lucy McDonnellEducation Project Officer
 

Solar Schools is a fundraising toolkit that helps schools to raise the money they need to install solar panels.

Solar Schools provides teams of staff, pupils and parents with the training and tools they need to crowdfund the cost of solar panels - cutting carbon, building communities, boosting budgets, learning new skills - and exploring energy and climate change in a totally new way.

Solar schools

Applications to become a Solar School are open until 29 May 2013

What are the benefits for your school?

Investing in solar cuts carbon and cushions schools against rising fuel costs. Plus, thanks to government Feed-in Tariffs which provide an income to anyone installing renewable energy, our Solar Schools will enjoy an additional boost to their budgets for 20 years. But Solar Schools brings far more than just finances:

• An exciting new way to teach pupils about energy by involving them in a positive, practical project that tackles climate change
• New enthusiasm for eco-work within the school
• Improved links with parents and local businesses and organisations
• Boosting the profile of their school in the local area
• New skills and confidence that can be applied to other exciting projects in the future.

“Fundraising for Solar Schools has unlocked the potential within our school community and identified that for many local businesses they were just waiting to be asked for help. This increased engagement has the potential to have a real long-term benefit for our school and we are delighted with the response that we have received.” Mary, Bursar

Explore the project and get involved

Or for more information contact hello@solarschools.org.uk

Pupils at Pendock CE Primary School, a current Solar School. Photo: 10:10 

Double your donation – and teach disaster risk reduction in your school

Lucy McDonnell's picture Posted by Lucy McDonnellEducation Project Officer
 

Until 3 May schools across the UK have a special opportunity to help more families prepare for disasters and emergencies.

As part of the Ready for Anything appeal, all schools fundraising donations will be matched pound for pound by the UK government.

Over 300 million people are affected by natural disasters every year. When a disaster hits lives are at risk, communities are wiped out and families lose everything. As well as looking at a community’s immediate needs, ActionAid looks at how to prevent similar disasters from having such devastating consequences in the future.

ActionAid has launched a series of learning materials on disasters and emergencies to support your school's fundraising activities.

Explore our work on Disaster Risk Reduction in the Powerdown climate change toolkit, where you can discover how flooding damaged four million homes in Bangladesh in 2007. The toolkit outlines the creative ways that communities are learning to build ‘flood-resistant’ houses and how children are learning flood survival at school.

Meet seven children from around the world and find out how they are learning to cope with extreme weather events in our Climate heroes case studies. This resource looks at children affected by climate change. Both of these resources are suitable for KS2 and KS3.

In our schools resource centre, you can also learn about how farmland is being improved following the East Africa drought, about responses to flooding in Assam and the floods in Pakistan in 2010, as well as how we have worked with communities following the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

Please start fundraising today to stop disasters becoming tragedies.

>> Download a Disaster Risk Reduction resource on the ActionAid website