Everyone, everywhere, deserves to
get an education
Our focus is to educate teachers and students around the world. We do this by focusing on how to better educational systems around the world. The four branches of this organization include: (1) teachers teaching teachers around the world; (2) assisting students in gaining education remotely, no matter their location; (3) students gaining education through travel; and (4) humanitarian assistance for educational systems that need additional help.
Why I Started Education Through Travel
Every person deserves to have their views of the world expanded to have greater understanding of the cultures and societies around them. This is, at its core, what Education Through Travel is striving to do. My whole life has been leading up to this and I am excited to see what can come from educating through travel.
- Teachers teaching other teachers
- Students having access to education, no matter their location
- Students gaining education through travel
- Humanitarian assistance for educational systems that need additional help
Why Education Is Important
Why Education Is Important Generally
Education matters. Learning is important for all people, whether they are 1 or 100. There are many around the world that do not have access to the education that is necessary to understand how governments, societies, economies, ecosystems, and relationships work across the world. This basic knowledge of these various systems is essential to contributing and thriving in the world today.
Educated people help lift the countries in which they live. According to one study “[e]ducation stimulates economic growth and improves people’s lives through many channels, namely: by increasing the efficiency of the labor force and thus increasing an individual’s earning potential, by fostering democracy and thus creating better conditions for good governance, by improving health and reducing fertility, by enhancing equality, and so on.” Education can positively influence individuals, but it can also positively influence communities, societies, and the world.
There is no denying that education is important generally, but there is also no denying that primary education, or elementary school education, is exceptionally important. Primary education has a higher rate of giving back to the country, especially in developing countries. One study found that “the rates of return to education are higher for primary education, than for further education, and that primary education contributes more to economic growth in less developed countries than in developed countries.”
Education, for children in particular, creates a ripple effect in communities. Education should be provided by teachers who care and who are educated to the level they are teaching at. Every person, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, and the country they live in, is entitled to a robust education. Education matters.
Teachers Teaching Teachers
There are amazing teachers around the world, but there are some disparities depending on the country in which the teacher teaches. There are disparities around pay, levels of education, students in the classroom, amount of deference shown to the teacher, and the level of education/training a teacher has.
Pay of Teachers Around the World
Pay of teachers in the United States has been a topic of debate for decades. There are many that believe teachers should be paid more. Some countries around the world have stepped up to show how much teachers mean to the communities by paying them well. Teachers in countries such as Luxembourg, Switzerland, Korea, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria are some of the highest paid in the world. It is not surprising that countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Korea, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands rank in the top countries based on education rankings.
Teachers are not all paid equally around the world. With regard to developed countries, the lowest paid teachers are in Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary. Other countries that rank among the lowest paid teachers are Chile, Brazil, and Indonesia.
Teachers in developing countries are paid even less than teachers in developed countries comparatively but are paid well when compared to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country in which they teach. The pay of the teacher also depends on if they work in the private or public sector.
Teachers may not have the incentive to put their heart, soul, and training into full practice if they are not compensated fully. An excellent teacher makes a difference in the lives of their students. The quality of a teacher can make or break the education of a classroom full of students and can have lasting effects on the community and world at large (as will be further discussed below).
There is a great deal of debate as to whether the number of children in a classroom affects the student’s ability to learn. Malcolm Gladwell points out in his book David and Goliath that there have been studies that indicate that there is a “sweet spot” for the number of students in a classroom. Various developed countries have long held that smaller classroom sizes are best for the students because the teachers can give more individualized attention.
Whether a classroom size matters or not, developed countries that put high attention on education often have smaller classroom sizes, while countries that do not put as high a premium on education have larger classroom sizes. With regard to more developed countries Brazil and Chile are among the largest class sizes of thirty-two and twenty-seven, respectively. The lowest classroom sizes are in Norway and Portugal, nine and eight, respectively. In under-developed countries, such as Ethopia, have over sixty students per teacher. (teacher shortage) As will be discussed further below, with a less than 55% qualified teacher rate in Ethiopia, the number of students per qualified teacher in Ethiopia is over 120.
Deference Shown to Teachers
Teachers are not given the respect they deserve in many countries. As discussed, education can shape the lives of individuals and can color communities and countries in long-lasting ways. Proper education is extremely important, and teachers should be given the at least level of deference needed to help support proper education.
There are certain collectivist countries like China and Malaysia that usually show the greatest respect to their teachers. Israel and Brazil rank the lowest for respect towards teachers. Countries that tend to be more individualist, like the United States and United Kingdom, rank in the middle of developed countries for respect for teachers.
Teacher Absenteeism and Lack of Teacher Involvement
While, in America and most developed countries, it is almost inconceivable to think that teachers would just not show up for class absent an emergency, there is an issue in some countries of teachers being absent from the classroom, and even the school. Countries like Mozambique, Uganda, and Tanzania have a problem with teacher absenteeism. In 2017, a study showed that in Mozambique teachers were absent from the school 45% of the time and absent from the classroom 56% of the time and in Uganda teachers were absent from the school 28% of the time and from the classroom 57% of the time.
For these countries the same study showed a low percentage of time spent on teaching. This could be due to the fact that the teachers are often absent from the classrooms, but the percentages show a greater amount of time not spent teaching than the amount of days the teachers were absent from the classroom. For Mozambique the average percentage of time spent on teaching is 39.46%, for Uganda 42.03%, and for Tanzania 55.21%. These students are not gaining what they could from the teachers if the teachers were present and teaching.
This essentially means that students do not even have a teacher in the classroom over half of the time, and teachers are not teaching for a percentage of the time they are in the classroom. There is room to teach classroom techniques and other pedagogical techniques to these teachers so that students may receive the best education possible.
Where Do We Go from Here?
The differences between countries and their treatment, respect, and pay of teachers are apparent from the statistics above. This is the information that is needed to show the foundation and starting point of where the world sits with our educators. We can do better as a global society.
The world is deficient in the number of teachers necessary to teach the number of children around the world. According to one study, the world will need almost 69 million more teachers by 2030. Most countries will achieve the number of teachers they need, but there are many that will not. Countries such as African Republic, Mozambique, Uganda, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Myanmar are not on track to have the number of teachers needed by 2030.
There is much work that needs to be done to educate the world properly. The benefits of a good teacher are immeasurable. Teachers that are properly trained, educated, and desire to teach can make monumental differences in students’ lives. This is something that seems intuitive, but the statistics back up this idea.
Research by Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff supports the idea that teachers are incredibly important in how student perform. A high-quality teacher can improve the results of students and the presence of a low-quality teacher can negatively impact the results of students. This study concludes that it is apparent through the data that the dispersion in teacher effects is substantial. These results imply that higher-quality teachers can raise a student’s test score significantly.
The old adage that “children are our future” is absolutely true, but the teacher that teach those children are an important part of how the children are taught to become the future. A good teacher, that has the ability to give their attention to all of their students, is paid well enough to not have to worry about their ability to support themselves and their families, and is given the respect they deserve, will change the world. One student at a time.
Students Learning Through Travel
Travel can help individuals expand their world view, help individuals learn beyond their normal situations, and help individuals gain experiences over theories. When students, especially teenaged students, have the ability to go learn outside of their normal day-to-day lives, they can gain an appreciation for people, cultures, and situations other than their own. This leads to greater compassion and understanding.
Expanding World Views
Traveling is an excellent form of education. Traveling to a foreign country and to different parts of one’s own country helps individuals understand various cultures and the common ground that unites different types of people. When students who are kept in their own neighborhood or small town and do not have the opportunity to see any other types of cultures, people, or places will have a difficult time understanding others.
Looking to the cultural ideologies and art of various countries and sub-cultures there may be differences, but there are similarities as well. The love of nature, art, and ancestral respect are all similarities between many cultures.
By seeing the differences and similarities in and understanding various cultures, people can start to understand how they can best contribute to the world. This is especially true for teenagers because they are able to start young and help their worldview form around that knowledge. When people can contribute to the world based on a variety of experiences it makes the world a better place for all.
Learning Beyond Normal Day-To-Day Situations
When an individual is able to get out of their routine and discover something outside of themselves, there is an enormous space created to learn. The individual can learn compassion for the lives of others, learn about themselves, and gain transformative learning experiences to become a better world citizen.
When it is discovered that people are just people, no matter where they live or what they look like, prejudice will subside. Knowing how people interact will help the global community become closer and greater understanding between peoples.
In a study in 1938, one of the pioneers of the idea of learning through experience, “proposed that knowledge and skills that a person learns in one situation can help them to understand and react to subsequent experiences.” Experiential learning has been defined as “meaningful discovery” by Boydell in 1976. Experiential learning is “when learners uncover knowledge on their own, through perceptual experiences and insights, usually as the result of a personal experience.”
Travel can be used as a catalyst to experiential learning, or meaningful discovery, for everyone. These experiences can be combined with “perception, cognition, and behavior to create learning.” A person can change for the better when these ingredients come together. People could even transform with these experiences. One study found that “the changing viewpoints in the traveling student to be akin to transformative learning.” When there is the ability for true, deep, and lasting change and learning a person can become a better version of themselves and change the world.
Experiences Over Theory
Students can learn about history, culture, and art from a textbook, but there is more that can be learned through experience. When a person is able to travel to the historic landmarks, explore the city’s cultures, and see the artistic marks on a city or country there is greater learning that happens beyond reading. Museums, buildings, and other sites can lead to deeper understanding of what happened in a city, how it happened, and how the society has been shaped by those events.
It has been suggested that what one learns about history through textbooks is deviated from reality. When able to talk with locals and walk through the streets of a city one can understand history in a greater and more accurate way. Having these experiences can help individuals, especially students, gain a different perspective.
Humanitarian Trips to Bolster Education
Humanitarian trips can be used to better the world and allow those who go on the trip to gain further knowledge about cultures. Humanitarian trips can also be considered a failure because there are no systems that are set up to make sure that the “help” that is given continues. When an organization plans a humanitarian trip there has to be more than a quick “band-aid.” There must be a way to instill long term change that will truly help the community and the culture where an organization chooses to go.
There are also certain standards an individual should look for when deciding to volunteer. Individuals should volunteer and help the global community in whatever way they feel passionate about but traveling can also help that person grow and gain something for themselves. As mentioned above, traveling can help a person to learn and immerse in culture, but there are greater benefits when that person can go and serve as well.
How an Organization Can Truly Help
A story is related by Miriam Adeney in “When the Elephant Dances, the Mouse May Die” that was told to her by an African friend:
“Elephant and Mouse were best friends. One day Elephant said, ‘Mouse, let’s have a party!’ Animals gathered from far and near. They ate. They drank. They sang. And they danced. And nobody celebrated more and danced harder than Elephant. After the party was over, Elephant exclaimed, ‘Mouse, did you ever go to a better party? What a blast!’ But Mouse did not answer. ‘Mouse, where are you?’ Elephant called. He looked around for his friend, and then shrank back in horror. There at Elephant’s feet lay Mouse. His little body was ground into the dirt. He had been smashed by the big feet of his exuberant friend, Elephant. ‘Sometimes, that is what it is like to do mission with you Americans,’ the African storyteller commented. ‘It is like dancing with an Elephant.’”
In the book When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor... and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert reference this story. The authors point out people who go on humanitarian trips need to integrate into the cultures and systems of the communities they are helping. If volunteers come in as an independent organization or as an outsider, the work that is done will not be incorporated into the communities.
Humanitarian trips can be exceptionally helpful when there is true development with the community, rather than rehabilitation to “fix” something that appears wrong to an outsider’s perspective. These types of trips are typically one to two weeks in length. This amount of time will not do the work that needs to be done. These short-term trips must be part of a long-term development approach that is supported by local organizations that will help move the cause along, even when there is no one there volunteering from an organized nonprofit.
The authors of When Helping Hurts also point out that an organization will do the best on a humanitarian trip, especially over the long term, when the community has asked for help. Once the community has asked for help or reached out, then the people from the community should also determine what the volunteers on the trip will do. There should be a plan to not simply go into a community, “help” that community, and then leave. With resources and assistances from people in that community there will be longer lasting change and greater outcomes.
How Humanitarian Trips Benefit Volunteers
Those who volunteer can benefit from humanitarian trips as well. Before an individual volunteers they should ask questions and get information about the trip. One should research the organization thoroughly before deciding to go on a trip with that organization. A person should understand both their own motivation and the objective of the organization where they are looking to volunteer.
An individual should look for organization where the program promotes local self-sufficiency. If an organization is well-connected with the local organizations in the country or area they are supporting that is a good sign. Local presence of people who are willing to help the organization after the volunteers are gone will help to better ensure the success and value of the work. Local presence can also help a person with their experience because the help will be received well and will continue on.
One of the best things a person can do is to look for an organization that can use their expertise and experiences to better their organization and cause. If a person takes their experience and knowledge to help a cause, it can help communities, countries, and the world. Giving and gaining perspective is one of the purposes to these types of humanitarian trips.
Volunteer opportunities also give a person the opportunity to see the world and gain a view of something outside of their normal life. This is similar to how students can learn through travel. This is true of humanitarian volunteers as well. If a volunteer is able to provide service in a community the volunteer can also explore, gain experiences, and see the community or country through the eyes of a local. This is when a volunteer can become a traveler, not just a tourist.
Gaining a new perspective is one of the greatest positive impacts a humanitarian trip can have on an individual. There are so many things that people can get caught up in when they are busy in their own lives. Volunteering in another country can be life changing. There are people who have their vision of the world broadened and have a better understanding and appreciation for different cultures, peoples, and situations.
There are many other positive benefits from giving back and focusing on others. A person can reduce their stress level and can contribute to your overall sense of satisfaction with your life. Volunteering can help you gain an additional sense of purpose, keep you active, connect with people, and according to some studies can even help you live longer.
Education Through Travel is working to help people over all these areas. Our mission is to help people gain the education necessary to become better world citizens. This can apply to those who are teachers, being taught, students, volunteers, or those who are asking for assistance. Helping teachers teach teachers, students learn through travel and experience, and to build up communities through humanitarian trips are the three main initiatives of Education Through Travel. It is our greatest desire to move these causes forward in the correct way to help the most people.