Category: Gates Bryant

Edify is on the Move!
edify   Edify is on the move! This summer Edify began pilot projects in two new countries in Africa: Liberia and Burkina Faso!  We are so grateful for our partners in Liberia and Burkina Faso who have blessed us with enthusiasm and local expertise to help expand and improve Christ-centered low-fee schools.  Here’s a quick snapshot of our progress to date in Liberia. Liberia ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world (174 of 186 on the UN Human Development Index) and the Liberian people suffered greatly during a fourteen year civil war that ended in 2003.  Since 2003, the affordable private school market has doubled in size.  Low-fee, good quality proprietor owned schools have been encouraged by the current President of Liberia, Madame Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.  When our partner, Foundation for Women – Liberia awarded the first schools loans, the Vice President of Liberia was in attendance to… Read more »
Is Your Student A Christian?
edify I was so encouraged and challenged when I read this post on the Gospel Coalition blog from Brian Croft, entitled, "Is Your Child a Christian?" I highly recommend reading the entire post.  In summary Pastor Croft states,"Admitting the obvious—that we are not God and cannot see the heart—I maintain certain evidence can help us discern the legitimacy of a child or teenager's profession of faith" and he offers the following five evidences for consideration: 1. Growing affection and need for Jesus and the gospel. 2. Heightened understanding of the truths of Scripture. 3. Increased kindness and selflessness toward siblings. 4. Greater awareness of and distaste for sin. 5. Noticeable desire to obey parents. What might this tell us about how to support Christian schools in the developing world as they faithfully encourage and instruct children as they grow in faith? Let me offer two ideas on this application to Edify's mission to expand and improve Christ-centered education in the developing world: Schools should see their mission to faithfully carry-out Gospel… Read more »
Fear and Self-esteem
edify I think fear might be the source of true “self-esteem” for children.  It’s a counter-intuitive idea, for sure and maybe a little counter-cultural as well. Schools in the developing world, as well as the ones in my neighborhood, have adopted in various ways notions of child development that find their basis in psychology.  Many of these concepts are helpful as we consider ways to address children’s needs in a developmentally appropriate way.  I’ve seen inspirational phrases painted on the walls of classrooms and schools that promote a positive self-image.  As seen in the pictures here, these phrases are often right along-side a painting of Winney the Pooh or Fred Flintstone or a Bible verse.  It’s an amusing mixture! Solomon was the wisest man to ever live and he had a lot to say about fear in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning… Read more »
Moved by Compassion
edify Recently I have caught myself using a new term: the authentic Christian school.  The more I use the term the more I am beginning to ask the question, what is distinctive about an authentic Christian school? Many in Christian education are using the same qualifiers to describe a vision for Christ-centered education that has not yet been fully realized.  Here is one perspective from the Association of Christian Schools International that captures this idea.  Among religious schools there are many different models and approaches for defining schools along these lines.  There are schools that are religious based on their affiliation with a local parish or church.  There are so-called covenant schools that define themselves on the basis of adherence to a statement of faith.  The covenant may apply to employees only or it may apply to parents and students as well as a condition for admission.  Of course, these are institutional labels that may have only a limited impact… Read more »
A fresh perspective from someone who knows best
edify So many schools had scripture prominently displayed and earnestly applied "Mothers always know best," so goes the old cliche.  There is a lot of truth in old cliches.  This fresh perspective on schools that Edify serves in the Dominican Republic comes from someone who has visited ministries of all kinds in Rwanda, Ecuador and the US, and who spent many years as a teacher of English as a second language.  She's pretty close to fluent in Spanish.  She is also my mom - most of the time she DOES know best! If you're thinking about spending time with us in the DR or Rwanda or Ghana, here's a visitor's first-hand account from Ginny Bryant: We were surprised the first time we entered through a small private dwelling to find a rather orderly place of three tiny classrooms.  Soranyi, the Directora of… Read more »
Technology isn’t a Silver Bullet but…
edify Improving academic quality is hard work but we’re committed to making gains through teacher training and technology. We’ve been making slow but steady progress with our use of Teachermate in Ghana and Rwanda to improve literacy skills.  In Rwanda, we’ve been using iPods to deliver Teachermate over the course of two academic terms.  Early results are really encouraging.  In Ghana, we’ve been working with two schools for one academic term.  When we initiated pre-testing with the students in Ghana, 90% of students scored below 50% on USAID’s Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA).  None of the teachers have degrees in education. Kofi Essien, Country Manager from our implementing partner, Open Learning Exchange - Ghana, comes this important observation: With each passing day the confidence levels of both teachers and pupils rises tremendously. Pupils now have moved from working in pairs to working on the TM as individuals. Each has an iPod assigned to him/her. Teachers have started to multi-task… In order to make… Read more »
Are great teachers shepherds or scholars?
edify What makes a great teacher? What makes a great Christian teacher?  What makes a great Christian teacher at an affordable private school in the developing world?  With each question, the available answers from research get murkier and murkier. Some background: in the US, parents are being presented with an ever-increasing range of choices for their children’s education.  In fact, according to the National Center on Education Statistics, enrollment in religious schools including Protestant ones has declined in recent years.  The decline has been so pronounced, that many are asking important, fundamental questions like “what should be different about a Christian school compared to one with no faith affiliation?” or “what priority should be placed on academic excellence compared to spiritual formation of students?” These questions are relevant to Christian schools in the developing world too because as the affordable private school movement develops, increasingly parents have more choices for the education of their children.  In addition, the public school systems in Ghana,… Read more »
When Mobile Devices and Classrooms Collide in Africa
edify A Video Post in Adventures in Sustaining Academic Improvement - Part 3 I believe it was Hannibal of A-Team fame who said, "I love it when a plan comes together." Amen, brother but then again it was Solomon who said in Proverbs, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." This summer we have been making lots of plans for the coming academic year in the developing world and we are so excited (in a cautiously-optimistic-way) about what is happening on a small scale in schools that Edify serves.  Earlier this summer, Brittany Roman shared in this post about how mobile devices can be used to change instructional paradigms in under-resourced schools in the developing world.  Today, I am excited to share this video which captures the heart behind what we are doing in partnership with Innovations for Learning using the TeacherMate program delivered on iPod Touches. Money quote from my… Read more »
What can Khan Academy in Ghana teach us in five days?
edify In Part 2 of our series on our adventures in sustaining academic improvement with technology, I caught up with Laura Hetzel to hear about her recent project working with our schools in Ghana. Laura recently completed her MBA from the University of San Diego and she spent three months in Ghana this spring working on a host of research projects looking at operations and academics at our schools.  The coolest thing about her time in Ghana, in my opinion was an intensive week-long experiment with Khan Academy in two schools in Koforidua.  Of course the standard in education is to pilot a solution for quite some time before “passing judgement” on the program but I was amazed at what we learned about the technology as well as the teachers and students that we are serving.   Passing judgement was not the goal here, we are working with our schools on incremental steps to… Read more »
Loans for Labs – Part 1 in an adventure in sustaining academic improvement
edify Across the developing world, students are clamoring for access to technology.  Despite high profile projects targeting to upend traditional schooling in the developing world (One Lap Top Per Child and Hole in the Wall), the use of computers for the vast majority of students is non-existent or confined to an “ICT” curriculum.  ICT's primary emphasis is basic computer literacy – ie What is a mouse? Computers are not used as a tool for learning and hundreds of millions of children have no access to the digital age.  We think this is a tragedy!  Yet students’ enthusiasm is undaunted and an enormous opportunity exists to improve the quality of education in affordable private schools in the developing world.  Edify seeks to support these schools as they pursue this opportunity in a sustainable manner. In 2010-2011, Edify began a pilot program of computer labs in 15 schools in Ghana and the Dominican Republic.  In 2012, Edify had developed and… Read more »