Category: Problem-based Learning

Students participating in school clean up service project at Good Shepherd Primary School

Students participating in school clean up service project at Good Shepherd Primary School


Greetings from Students for Global Democracy Uganda!

Well, I would like to inform you that the World Youth Day for Democracy 2013 activities were a great success compared to last year as the youth had no idea about this day, but ever since we started promoting the day, we did receive a tremendous number of interested youth who participated in our activities.

We did start with an entirely student community leadership training and Public Order Management Law debate at London College Nansana, were three other schools were invited that included Masharia Senior Secondary School, Bilal Islamic Institute, Kakiri and Jakym Senior Secondary School, Katooke. It was really a rewarding leadership training for the prefects and they learned the difference between a leader and a commander or a ruler.

The public order management law debate for the student community was both participatory and interactive and this time along, many girls were in attendance as compared to the boys.

The real day was overwhelming, since the young people reported for the activities as early as 6:30p.m and ready to take on the community service, which started at Kawaala Health Centre III. Thereafter, we proceeded to Kawaala Police Station and finally at Good Shepherd Primary school, were we engaged in both indoor and outdoor cleaning exercise. The community cleaning exercise started at 8:30 am after a briefing from Ivan Otim, Students for Global Democracy Uganda, Program Officer and ended at 12:00 noon.

The public order management law debate started at exactly 2:00pm, with a topic “The Dangers and Implications of the Public Order Management Law to the Youth Movement in Uganda. It was such a participatory and an interactive debate, since our partner organizations were able to participate like Uganda Youth Network, Teens Uganda, Open Space Centre, African Youth Development Link, Sports Eye Foundation Uganda and Uganda Youth Guidance Development Association, who were the co-organizers of the Student Community Leadership Training and Public Order Management Debate. The community youth also attended and raised issues concerning the Public Order Management Law. During the discussions many issues were raised by the youth, including that passing of this draconian law is a sign of dictatorship and the young will fight it. Many youth suggested that we take the endeavor to popularize the dangers of this law especially among the illiterate and rural youth, so as to come on board to protest.

~ Mike Gesa Munabi, President
Students For Global Democracy-Uganda


Thank You, PaCIE!

Last week, the e-collaborate team lead a session on connecting students globally at the Pennsylvania Council for International Education (PaCIE) conference. The conference was held in Philadelphia, PA and was an interesting mix of educators, administrators, superintendents, businesses leaders and those invested in education in some capacity. 

They had one panel discussion on how business and education sectors can work together.  The executives on the panel answered the question, “Would you hire my child?” It was candid as well as eye opening.  The ‘execs’ talked about the desirable skills they would like to see in their future workforce and the educators brought up the challenges they face as their budgets continue to get cut.  The resolution in this case is that business and educators need to work together to ensure that students are prepared for the future and that educators have the appropriate resources to adequately prepare students. However, the discussion did not address the role that non-profits such as e-collaborate can provide to ease this problem. Our programs are offered free to schools and provide rich learning opportunities to prepare students for the workforce, meeting many of the skill-sets the business community is searching for.

In addition, there were valuable sessions such as the K-12 roundtable discussion where participants brought up challenges they were facing in their own districts and everyone at the table helped come up with steps to solve the problem.  There were many other sessions that showcased study abroad trips, unique ideas on how to incorporate social media and journalism in the classroom based on real world events, how to use iPads and technology in the schools, and many more. 

In our session, we were happy to see every seat in the room full!  Building on the idea of the need for more empathy in the world, we explained how the eKWIP program and virtual internships does this by providing young people the opportunity to address social issues through global collaboration and volunteerism. It also provided an opportunity to share our ideas for the new virtual internship platform and gain insight directly from educators on program design.  The audience was very engaged and receptive to the presentation. We received feedback such as “I love this idea and hope to offer it to students!” and “This is a fabulous way to engage students!”  We are eager to begin working with PaCIE participants to provide our programs to a new set of students as we continue to grow.  

Stay tuned as we explore potential partnerships with colleges, K-12 connections, and other NGOs as we keep building our programs and expanding the e-collaborate community. 


Naina Boveja
Executive Director






Launch Network ( is a networking organization for professional women based in the DC area. Their mission is to promote the achievements of women in the US through a variety of events. 

Not only do they help charities all over the world, they offer a great platform for new ventures, entrepreneurs, executives, and people with innovative careers to showcase their work. The Network is also focused on cultivating the next generation of young women through mentorship and outreach programs.

Launch Network’s founder, Monika Samtani selected e-collaborate as the charity to spotlight and contribute to during their annual Headshot event with Moshe Zusman ( This was a great way for e-collaborate to get out into the community in a different capacity. While people were waiting to get their makeup done by Nour from MadeUpArt (, and then get their head shot taken with Moshe, they discussed with us our programs and learned about e-collaborate.  We made some great connections that day and are so grateful for the experience.  The funds raised from the event will go directly towards providing more educational resources and technology for classrooms in need.

As a relatively new non-profit, it is a great opportunity to meet citizens in the community that would like to give back and get involved. We genuinely thank Launch Network for the chance to be part of this amazing event. To see photos, please click here

Have you heard of SERT?

Last Tuesday, my colleague Beth, and I visited Greencastle Elementary in Silver Spring.  Greencastle was the largest Elementary School we had ever seen.  We had a meeting with an old friend, Natalie, who is a teacher there now and in addition to teaching students with special needs, she also runs the SERT program.  SERT stands for School Energy and Recycling Team. They pick around 15 students who become the schools recycling team.  They turn off the lights at school, make sure the computers are shutdown for the weekend, help implement recycling plans in the cafeteria, turn off water, and more!

One of the coolest parts about this program is that everything is measured, so at the end of the year, they see how much electricity was saved at the school and how many pounds of paper recycled.  Also, they have an entire page dedicated to the program through the MCPS website. They have games, resources, and ideas for teachers to implement and much more. They even have competitions amongst the schools in Montgomery County. Last year a student at Greencastle won! SERT is in all the schools in Montgomery County and is making quite an impact in both resource conservation and educating kids about environmental issues.


Natalie wanted to go beyond turning off lights and monitoring recycling in the cafeteria.  The SERT group at Greencastle is going to partner with eKWIP to complete our Water 101 lessons in Water Conservation. Many of their students do not have the resources to gain experience or knowledge beyond their immediate community. By participating in eKWIP, the students will learn about local environmental issues, while exposing them to a much larger community and connecting to people and organizations outside of their normal day to day interactions. e-collaborate staff will help facilitate this experience and connect Greencastle Elementary beyond their building! We discussed many new ways to engage their community and ours. Please stay tuned as the project gets underway…

Also, if you would like to get more information about connecting special groups, after school programs, or even classrooms, please contact us and we will work with you to customize eKWIP to your needs. For more information on SERT, please click here

Naina Boveja
Executive Director

While school curriculum is adapting to the globalized world by teaching global literacy and international education, it can also be done or reinforced in the home. Every parent wants their child to be prepared for the world, and to be equipped to make a successful transition into adulthood and the workforce. In today’s world, this means preparing our kids to be comfortable and adaptable to global environments.

In an engaging discussion, Homa Sabet Tavanger will share tips, advice, and lessons learned from her experiences as a mother of three and professional who has lived and worked in many regions of the world. Growing Up Global: Raising Children to be At Home in the World, written by Tavanger, helps parents to raise children with a global perspective. Not all families can travel overseas to expose their children to world cultures, but they can start engaging with the world right in their own home communities. Parents will gain a greater understanding of some of the vast changes in a shrinking world. They will grow closer to each other while they engage in activities that demonstrate the experiences and preferences of their peers around the world. Children who are comfortable in a globalized world gain a distinct edge in competitive environments, and ultimately, become better-adjusted and more confident adults.

Join the discussion and learn how to prepare your child for the global world!

Not a parent? Come anyway! You will enjoy interesting stories of the humorous situations one gets into while living abroad with young children. And you will be supporting a great cause! This event is a fundraiser for e-collaborate. All funds raised will go towards future programming and technology for classrooms in need. Lunch is included in the ticket price.

Tickets can be purchased here.

For more information about the author and book, please visit the Growing Up Global website.

There are many obstacles to obtain an education in developing countries. The public schools are often overcrowded and have limited resources, lacking books and basic school supplies. This makes it difficult for teachers to engage their students and provide a warm learning environment. Not to mention, often classrooms do not have a teacher because they do not show up that day or because there are no resources to compensate the teachers for their time. Also, even though there are public schools, these schools still have attendance fees, required uniforms, and personal school supplies that must be paid out of pocket. Many families do not have the financial ability to pay for their child’s education or through a cost-benefit analysis they find it necessary that their child work during the day instead of attending school.

There are countless organizations, both large and small, that strive to address the issue of access to education through sponsorship programs. We have all seen the advertisements for these – “Please send X amount to sponsor a year of education for a child in need.” However, in recent years, assistance organizations have found that simply providing a low income child access to education is not enough to guarantee educational success. Because of this, many organizations are providing after school enrichment programs and mentorship to support children who are at risk of not receiving an education. For example, Casasito, a community-based organization in Antigua, Guatemala partners with organizations in many rural communities to provide after school learning in topics as diverse as break-dancing, graphic design, civic action, and more. They found that these enrichment activities help students discover that learning is fun and makes them excited to stay in school and continue down that path. Similarly, Anandan, offers vocational learning and enrichment activities for students in the slums of Calcutta, India. Their approach allows students to explore different topics and areas that they otherwise would not get the chance to. Local schools are focused on rote learning and do not foster the creative side of students. For many young people, this is an area that they excel in, but need the chance to express and identify their talent.

In the fall semester, e-collaborate will expand its eKWIP program to several community-based organizations that provide enrichment learning to under-served youth. eKWIP is a rich educational tool that teaches young people necessary skills to compete in the 21st century – both technological capacity and global understanding. e-collaborate believes these to be the two most important skills today’s youth need and it is our goal to provide this opportunity to communities around the world. It will strengthen existing learning communities and expose youth to new experiences and skills that they otherwise might not have.

~Beth Davis, Manager of Educational Programs

Town of Santa Cruz from the CECAP roof and sample of the students iron-cast work in the railing.

Town of Santa Cruz from the CECAP roof and sample of the students iron-cast work in the railing.

With the global economy in its current state, youth are disproportionally impacted and face unemployment levels at extremely high rates. A high level of youth unemployment is particularly troubling and can be a destabilizing factor for communities. This is especially true in developing countries that often have youth bulges, and youth unemployment can compound existing issues of inequality and marginalization. Lack of economic opportunities weakens social cohesiveness and tears at the esteem of communities. Because of this, it is a critical issue to address and one that requires creative solutions.

I visited the Centro de Capacitacion (CECAP), a vocational school in Santa Cruz, Guatemala, that is doing amazing work to provide young (and older) adults practical education that leads to greater employment opportunities. They offer a variety of certification and training programs, including: culinary arts, carpentry, sewing, weaving looms, bead and jewelry making, ironwork, computer literacy, and hair and beauty. The programs have incredibly high job placement rates after graduation, with some programs as high as 100 percent.

The uniqueness of this center is that is it is a sustainable, community driven initiative. The trainers and executive director of the school are all local, and the local community decides the areas of training within the center based on their interests and the economic demands of their community. The center also makes every effort to be self-sustaining. For example, the culinary school opened a café within the center that not only provides excellent real world practice for its students, but is turning a profit that provides funding for needed staff. CECAP also has a small garden on its rooftop that provides many of the herbs and ingredients for its café. Also, the artisan work of students is sold in a small shop within the center and has begun to sell internationally. The center hopes that it can continue to expand the existing market for the artisan products so that its students and future students are able to have continuous work.

CECAP also makes many efforts to involve the community in their programs. For the final exam and graduation of the culinary school, students must design a multi-course meal and beverage. The community is invited to try the dishes and celebrate in the graduation. The center also works closely with local public schools. Students starting from around age 10 attend computer classes and are encouraged to attend trainings in one of the many other areas offered. Since local schools lack computer labs, this is provides a needed exposure and opportunity to build computer literacy. CECAP has 17 donated computers in its lab and solar panels on its roof to reduce electricity costs.  This is just another example of the many ways that CECAP is self-sustaining.

While its mission is to provide vocational education, it is doing much more. It is helping the local economy by providing jobs and a skilled labor force in areas of economic demand. Santa Cruz is one of the poorest towns in the area and is incredibly isolated, as it can only be reached by boat. Being able to help grow the economy in these conditions is a difficult task. CECAP also is helping to build a vibrant and cohesive society. By having the community involved and celebrating the success of its students, it is fostering civic engagement and local ownership of the accomplishments of its community members.

~Beth Davis, Manager of Educational Programs

e-collaborate collected dozens of gently used and new electronics to help facilitate greater use of technology in the classroom for students at Atiltan Multicultural Academy (AMA) in Panajachel, Guatemala. I recently delivered a tablet, mini notebook, i-phones, mp3 players, cameras, camcorders and more donations to the school. I happened to be there during a celebration of a student’s birthday and the end of final exams. Below are photos of the festivities!

AMA is a k-12 English immersion school located in a former hotel on the edge of beautiful Lake Atitlan. Since the classrooms are former hotel rooms, class sizes are kept very small and students receive greater individual attention from teachers. There are 70 students in the entire k-12 school. The majority of the students receive sponsorships to cover their school fees and faculty works hard to raise funds to be able to provide education to even more students. They are hoping to be able to increase their student body to 115 in the coming school year, which will require moving school buildings.

Interestingly, many of the students are trilingual or even quadrilingual. They speak one or more indigenous languages in their home, Spanish in their community, and English in the classroom. The technology provided will help reinforce their language skills in and outside of the classroom. Spanish teachers frequently use local radio stations for language activities, which is a very practical application of the language and technology. Teachers also load English audio books and games to mp3 players so that students can hear and practice the language during their long commutes home. Since the school does not have a computer lab, it sometimes requires students to complete online homework assignments at internet cafes. However, some students live in very remote areas that do not have any internet service. Through our donations and the use of internet sticks, these students will be able to complete online assignments after school hours.

Being able to access different types of technology at school is a very important experience for students. Many in this part of the world would otherwise not have the opportunity to acclimate themselves to the use of technology since they are not exposed to it in their homes. This is an important skill to have in the 21st century and one that future employers assume that the younger generation will naturally have. Many young people, especially in the developed world, are already able to operate tablets and smart phones by the time they are three years old. It becomes almost an innate skill for these children. It is important that schools are able to provide this learning experience to students since it cannot be guaranteed that they have the same opportunities at home, and if they do not, it is a risk that they will fall behind in the highly technologically driven world we live in.

~Beth Davis, Manager of Educational Programs

pinyataBirthday girl and her pinata.

pinyata 5Kids scrambling for the pinata goodies.

roofView from the top of the school.

Results of a Gallup/Microsoft Partners in Learning/Pearson Foundation study reveal that young people in the U.S. who learn and develop 21st century skills in their last year of school are more likely to report having higher work quality later in life.

In the study, “21st century skills” were measured via an index of seven specific areas: real-world problem-solving, global awareness, technology used in learning, collaboration, knowledge construction, skilled communication, and self-regulation. Participants who reported having an education strong in these areas also often reported excellent work quality (success relative to most Americans of their age, success in their current job, having a voice in decision-making and being a valued member of their workplace). Of the seven areas, real-world problem-solving has the strongest link to higher work quality.

The study also reveals the influence inequality in education has on future success. Respondents with postgraduate work or a degree (37%) were more likely to report having an education strong in 21st century skill development than college students and graduates (27%) and participants with a high school degree or less (22%). Students of a higher income are more likely to attend schools with the funding to support a comprehensive technological education and problem-based learning program and thus are more prepared for the workforce than students that are less economically fortunate.

What these results tell us is simple but critical for students’ future success. In order to truly prepare students for the workforce, we must provide them with an education that focuses on real-world problem solving. While a traditional education is valuable, students must also gain exposure and experience with following through on long-term projects, applying their knowledge to real-world problems, and using modern technology similar to how they will in future employment. Only in this way will they fully prepare themselves for what lies ahead, making themselves confident and knowledgeable employees for hire in a dog-eat-dog world. A technologically- and problem-based education utilizing programs such as eKWIP is incredibly important in raising our future leaders and workers, and we should look to integrate programs like this in all schools, regardless of area or income level, to promote equality and success for all students.

-Ashley Marquardt

Busteed, Brandon. “What Works in Schools Is Real Work.” The Gallup Blog. Gallup, 30 May 2013. Web. 31 May 2013.
Levy, Jenna, and Preety Sidhu. “In the U.S., 21st Century Skills Linked to Work Success.”Gallup Wellbeing. Gallup, 20 May 2013. Web. 31 May 2013.

The tremendous stress and quick rate of destruction that we inflict on the Earth make global Earth Day celebrations extremely important. Earth Day provides an opportunity to educate people on issues facing the environment and encourage them to take action. It is an opportunity to build new environmental activists and foster a global movement to protect the Earth. As seen in many of the Earth Day celebrations around the world, people are using this day to protest corporate destruction of natural resources or to recruit new volunteers to clean up parks and waterways. There are countless ways to get involved and make an impact.

This year, the theme of Earth Day is “the face of climate change.”  Earth Day organizers encourage people around the world to share their photos, showing the different faces working to improve the environment. By linking the people to the cause, greater connectedness is felt and there is a sense of collaboration. As explained by Bryan Buchanan, spokesman for the Earth Day Network, “[climate change] has real consequences for real people, as well as places that we love and animals. We want to bring this massive problem down to size. It makes everyone who’s doing their part (no matter how small) feel connected to the bigger environmental movement.”

eKWIP Challenge does this year round.  The program raises awareness and encourages students to take action to solve contemporary environmental issues like the global water crisis, which contributes to climate change. Through sharing photos, videos, and more, students put a face to others like them who are taking action to learn about the environment and find solutions to end the destruction against it. The Challenge builds collaboration and makes the problem real, with real people sharing their personal experiences with their own environment.

To get involved this Earth Day, go to the new eKWIP Challenge website and sign up for one of our courses on the global water crisis. Educate yourself and other students about environmental issues and connect with likeminded people around the world that are working for a better future for the environment and for the world.


Anderson, Nick. “Earth Day 2013 focuses on climate change” Washington Post. April 21, 2013