There might be close to 5,000 miles between a group of Orkney S2 pupils and their new classmates, but that isn’t stopping them from joining a fight against poverty overseas.
Kirkwall Grammar School teacher Theophilus Ogbhemhe’s students have partnered with Government Boys’ Secondary School in Pakistan and Nexus International Academy in Nepal.
The Orcadian schoolchildren have launched a series of community projects to help raise funds and resources for causes that they chose themselves.
Their current project list includes:
- Educational Materials Project – Students placed collection boxes for pens, pencils, rubbers and other materials at Sclaters, Town Barbers and both Kirkwall Co-ops
- School Uniforms and Sandals Project – Every £20 raised will fund a uniform and sandals for a pupil overseas
- Tech and Wi-Fi Project – Collection points at local stores will also accept phones, iPads, tablets and laptops
- Widows Empowerment Project – Every £30 raised will help support a widow in one of the partner communities
- Climate Awareness project – Students say that increased sustainability at home and around the globe can help reduce poverty and inequality
Equal education as a path out of poverty
Mr. Ogbhemhe’s students have latched on to the partnerships with schools around the world because they believe equal and fair access to educational resources gives children the basis for success.
“Helping our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world gain access to education is the right thing to do.”
-Hope Henderson, S2 pupil
The students said they worked together with the overseas schools on how to achieve their goals.
“We have been in contact, discussing and negotiating the innovative and inventive ways to help reduce inequalities and stop poverty,” the Kirkwall students wrote.
“Both schools agreed that education was a route out of poverty, and this influenced the projects we have agreed to take on in our campaign to popularize the goals and make the world a fairer and safer place for everyone to live in.”
As Kirkwall S2 pupil Hope Henderson put it: “Education is the easiest and quickest way out of poverty, so helping our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world gain access to education is the right thing to do.”
Elsie-Mae Tulloch added that providing something as simple as a school uniform or a good pair of shoes not only helps students, it also helps their families.
“I think that providing sandals and school uniforms for the poor pupils in our partner school in Pakistan will help reduce poverty, as it ensures that these kids can get an education and therefore a better job, so they can get out of poverty, and possibly move to a better and safer environment. It also puts less pressure on their parents and careers that must pay for the uniforms and education of their children.”
Orcadians poised to pitch in
Several businesses around Kirkwall have already stepped up to help the students in their efforts.
It’s time to act and help out against injustice for a brighter future for all our kids.”
-Heather Richards, Town Barbers
Sclaters, Town Barbers and the Kirkwall Co-operatives are hosting collection points where community members can donate resources.
Heather Richards of the Town Barbers said: “We’re delighted to assist the S2s at KGS in their plans for striving to improve how we all live our lives, and make the world a fairer and safer place for everyone to live. It’s time to act and help out against injustice for a brighter future for all our kids.”
The class has also set up a fundraising page on GoFundMe, where community members can make donations to their causes.
‘Proud of my pupils’
Mr. Ogbhemhe introduced his students to the projects through the Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning program, a partnership between the British Council and the government.
He said: “I am proud of my pupils and lucky to be their teacher. I am impressed by how enthused they how and how they have taken ownership of the projects. It is a thing of joy seeing young people demand for fairness in society.”