When I was a young learner there was a clearly defined understanding of the role of teachers in schooling and in their interactions with students and families.
OTF Supports Teachers and Children, Abroad and At Home (OTF Report)
For over 50 years, OTF's International Assistance Program has built schools, purchased learning materials, funded professional development programs, strengthened teacher union capacity, and helped countless numbers of the world's poorest children to stay in school, placing textbooks firmly in their hands and school uniforms proudly on their young bodies.
In recent years, the fund has been inundated by requests: last year alone it received over 300 requests for assistance. OTF allocates 1.8 percent of its net fee revenue annually to funding as many worthwhile requests as it can. Committee members representing all affiliates oversee the fund and are clear on its priority areas: support for special needs students, projects involving victims of HIV/AIDS, school water purification and sanitation projects, and all educational projects benefitting girls and women.
Here is a small sample of six of 30 girls' and women's projects supported directly by OTF in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.
- Social Action for Abused Kids in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila. Funding supports tuition fees and other educational needs of 165 girls who have been victims of sexual abuse, neglect, and abandonment.
- •Arvajana Seva Sadan in Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, India. Funding supports the education of 40 girls aged10 to 16 years. By tradition, girls are not encouraged to pursue an education and are expected to stay home and look after the family. The organization convinced the parents of the target group to send their girls to school.
- Guiding Eyes for the Girls' Welfare Home received funding to support the education of 180 girls aged 3 to 18 years old in an orphanage in Antipolo City, Philippines.
- Apoolo Na Angor Vocational Skills Academy in Mbale, Uganda receives funds to buy basic furniture such as cutting tables and sewing stools for a crafts centre that teaches tailoring and agricultural skills to rural women and girls.
- Rahamath Mahila Mandali. OTF funding supported the construction of washroom facilities and the purchase of games materials for 120 girls aged 5 to 14 years at the S.S. Niketan English Medium School in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh, India.
- Members Association Social Service (MASS) received funding to hold a one-day workshop for 500 senior students, police officials, and psychologists in Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh, India to bring awareness of and find solutions to the problem of 'eve teasing' — the harassment of young girls.
You can access more information on OTF's International Assistance Program by visiting otffeo.on.ca.
I would also likely to briefly highlight OTF's ongoing support for the Shannen's Dream Project and Heartspeak (an organization that engages youth in video production) here at home. A documentary chronicling the courageous life of Shannen Koostachin and her dream for equitable funding and support for schools for First Nations children in Ontario and beyond has now been produced. I encourage you to visit the website heartspeak.ca and engage in making Shannen's Dream a reality!
While our teachers are away, some write wonderful letters back to us. They deserve to be shared. I hope you enjoy these excerpts and will be inspired to consider a teaching exchange at some point in your own career.