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George Clement Bond Center for African Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
Ethiopian Children's Storybook Author, Alem Eshetu
Writing and Publishing Children's Books in African Languages: The Case of Amharic in Ethiopia
On May 6, 2015, Mr. Eshetu, author of more that 23 children's books in Amharic, joined students and staff for a brown bag lunch to discuss the challenges Ethiopian writers and children are facing. Mr. Eshetu highlighted the work of the Academy of African Languages (ACALAN) and the Stories Across Africa project (StAAF) in promoting and supporting a culture of reading and writing in the working languages of Africa. As an Ethiopian author, he emphasized the need to build awareness for children's literature and to incorporate literature into the current school curriculum in an effort to build the nation's interest for literature. Most recently, Mr. Eshetu collaborated with TC Professor Cate Crowley to develop storybooks to be used by Ethiopian children and adults to refine their speech following cleft palate repair.
Guest Talk with Okey Ndibe, Author of Foreign Gods, Inc.
On April 1, 2015, with funding from the Vice President’s Grant for Diversity and Community Initiatives and in collaboration with the TC Department of Arts and Humanities, the Gottesman Libraries, and the CU Institute for African Studies, Nigerian author and journalist Okey Ndibe spoke about his two recent publications Arrows of Rain and Foreign Gods, Inc., and preparations for future publications.
Africa39 Launch in New York City
The launch on March 3, 2015 provided a “snapshot of what is written across the continent,” according to by Africa39 editor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey. Published by the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, Africa39 is an anthology of the best Sub-Saharan authors under the age of 39. Authors Tope Florian and Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond joined Allfrey to read excerpts from their short stories, and to field questions from the audience, particularly on the need to invest in more creative industries such as literature and book publishing.
CEO of South African Human Rights Commission, Kayum Ahmed
The event was Co-hosted by the CU Institute for African Studies on December 2, 2014. Mr. Ahmed spoke on the need to shift the dominant discourse on human rights in education and to encourage teachers to facilitate open discussion and debate between students. With the riots in Ferguson, Missouri held just days earlier, Mr. Ahmed outlined the need to “build bridges” between police and communities and to begin a narrative of empowerment.
Coffee Hour with visiting Human Rights Advocates
On November 18, 2014, the Center for African Education welcomed the participants of the Human Rights Advocates Program hosted by the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University over coffee and conversation. Each of the six advocates with work across Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and South Sudan reflected on what they learned in studying together over the past few months before they each return home to warmer weather in early December. The discussion moved from the similarities among the issues present both here and abroad to the importance of incorporating “indigenous knowledge" into international and national frameworks. One advocate expressed a need to open a “platform” for discussion among various populations to welcome this knowledge. The conversation also stressed the need to work in advocacy according to the "human perspective" and limited to the academic perspective.
Discussion with South Sudanese Education Advocate, Ador Riak
On November 10, 2014, co-sponsored by the TC Center for African Education, SIPA's Humanitarian Affairs Working Group, and the Gottesman Libraries, Ador Riak, Deputy Principal of Malek Academy in Bor, South Sudan spoke on behalf of his educational experiences. He received teacher training in Kakuma refugee camp, a post-secondary degree from the University of Nairobi's Education in Emergencies program, and has recently returned to South Sudan as a teacher. Ador expressed the importance of education in helping South Sudanese students form their identities in the newly independent country. He emphasized the role of education in peacebuilding and helping citizens to "understand diversity and appreciate each other." Ador remains hopeful in building teacher capacity and encouraging education for all, particularly among his female students, even as his school, Malek Academy is challenged by conflict.