Education That Pays For Itself conference 2007

Paraguay 2007

The First International Conference on Financially Self-Sufficient Schools took place in Paraguay December 4th-6th 2007 All Conference Participantsbringing together over 140 participants from 21 countries around the world.

From Benin to Bolivia, the conference provided a rare chance for some of the world’s leading practitioners to share their experiences in creating a new breed of schools – institutions with proven solutions to many of the fundamental problems that plague education across the developing world:

  1. How to provide high quality education without high fees
  2. How to finance improved facilities without outside support
  3. How to teach young people to succeed as entrepreneurs
  4. How to empower future generations to break out of the poverty trap

The event represented a major step forward in creating an international movement from the many disparate organizations that are transforming education in developing countries by integrating entrepreneurship and financial sustainability into the fabric of schools.

Sharing Experiences
One theme that came through strongly at the conference was the variety of approaches used by Financially Self-Sufficient Schools to meet local needs while also ensuring their own institutional sustainability.

At one end of the spectrum are private schools for the poor which generate superior academic results to state schools while relying exclusively on fees. Another alternative is the model of ‘low-to-no fee schools’, financed by profitable business operations, yet where the running of these enterprises do not cross over into their academic work. 

Attempting to directly integrate generating income with their education curricula are the hybrid approaches where students gain a hands-on involvement in business and production alongside more conventional general education.

Joint WorkingSharing Vision
Traditional state-centric models for education, it was widely agreed, have consistently failed to meet the real needs of huge numbers of young people in developing countries.

A common feeling among participants, however, was that even the best of the approaches highlighted during the conference are all too often dismissed by those working in international development as ‘one-off’ success stories - with their potential for creating systemic change over-looked.

As the conference drew to a head, the message came out loud and clear - wherever we stand on the spectrum of sustainable education, we need to stand together if we want to create real change.

Participants mandated Teach A Man To Fish to lead in coordinating a network for sustainable education, facilitating the sharing of information, and organizing further events at national, regional and international levels

Participants Pulling TogetherSharing Laughter
In much the same way that learning-by-doing converts classroom knowledge into real understanding, the chance to share a little laughter can transform conference hall intellectualizing into mutual understanding and long-lasting friendships. 

Not just young rural entrepreneurs, but also talented performers, students from the host school kicked-off the conference with a display of traditional Paraguayan dance.

The unique Cambá Cuá community - Afro-Paraguayans descendants of 19th century ex-slave soldiers from Uruguay – followed this lead with a music and dance extravaganza for attendees on the Tuesday night.

By the final night it was the turn of the participants to provide the entertainment – revealing more than a few undiscovered talents!

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