In March this year, we launched our annual photo competition on the theme of our forthcoming 2021/2 GEM Report on non-state actors. The brief was for photographers to submit original photographs that capture the many ways in which non-state actors are involved in education systems – providing education (private, NGO, faith-based or community schools); providing ancillary services (school meals, technology, assessments, tutoring); influencing education systems (equity implications; influence over national policies; resource mobilization); and the state role in the process (regulatory frameworks, accountability mechanisms). The winner was to be awarded $500 and the runners up $200 each.
We are very pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s annual photo competition is Distance learning in crisis by Stephen Douglas, taken in Kambia, Sierra Leone. Stephen is an award-winning Canadian journalist working in Sierra Leone. His photo shows the importance of family engagement in education, particularly in the context of COVID-19 school closures.
“Listening to, and participating in, the daily interactive “Reading on the Waves” radio program has been a whole-family undertaking for the Kamaras,” he explained. “The family literacy initiative funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada and implemented jointly by CODE, Farm Radio International and the Association of Language and Literacy Educators (Sierra Leone) has helped to sustain learning during COVID-19 school closures in Sierra Leone and Liberia.”
Sixty-five episodes of the daily radio program ran for a total of 13 weeks with over 125,000 students tuning in. The effectiveness of radio programming was further reinforced through distribution of family literacy kits containing stationery supplies and a custom-created anthology of local stories, poems and illustrations designed to allow students to follow along with the shows. Over 60,000 kits were distributed to families and over 2,000 teachers received the teacher training guide.
Program success was facilitated by careful engagement of a broad cross-section of stakeholders including the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, local government officials, teachers, radio stations and community leaders.
Two runners up were also selected from among the submissions. A prize was awarded to Roxanne Paraiso from the Philippines, taken in a dam in Rodriguez, Rizal, and portraying the important role played by non-state actors providing informal education. Roxanne is a member of SLR, a group of photographers in the Philippines that help individuals learn and develop their photography skills.
“The photo shows a young volunteer in a rural community educating young children on the importance of how they can help save the environment,” Paraiso explained. “She believes that it is our duty and that the earth is a place worth fighting for. She educates children of the town on how to recycle plastic bottles. A small board, a piece of chalk and her fondness to help save the environment is her weapon that can have a huge effect not just now but also in the future. Recycling is a huge part and everyone, young and old, must take an action”.
The second prize for a runner up went to Raven Biason Frias, a student leader taking up a Bachelor of Science in Family Life and Child Development in the University of the Philippines – Diliman. Her passions include teaching, photojournalism and leading causes for Filipino children. Starting at age 12, she has won several local photo competitions as a campus journalist and hobbyist. Her works usually feature the realities of the underprivileged families in the urban setting.
Her photo captures the role that non-state actors play in providing ancillary services to schools, including meals. During the 2021 Women’s Month Celebration, a group of women from the Kabilugan Community in the Philippines won the Barangay Tiktok Dance Challenge. Using the prize money and donations pooled, they funded initiatives of their community collective, MAKASAKA (Magkaibigang Kasama sa Kabilugan – ‘Kabilugan Peers’). Their youth counterpart, called the Kabiligan Youth Organization organizes, carries out projects such as art contests, school meals and supplies distribution for the online classes of students in their community. In this photo, Andrea Madrid, a 19-year old criminology student from the organization, leads the youth in handing out more than 100 school meals for children in the community.