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Taking a community-based approach: Meet UoPeople awardee Gabriel

In cooperation with the University of the People (UoPeople), the IB has aimed to address the global shortage of qualified educators. This year, we are funding 100 educators on their way to earning a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree. We hear from Gabriel Boateng, an educator from Ghana International School to reflect on how access to this programme is shaping his knowledge and career aspirations.

Taking a community-based approach: Meet UoPeople awardee Gabriel

From a very early age, I have been naturally interested in guiding and leading peers in the community and in my school to make the best of their talents and abilities. I was raised in a family of educators, which made a great impact on me. Growing up, this interest grew to become an intense desire to create the conditions necessary for developing lifelong learning opportunities for all students under my tutelage.

As a teacher for the last seven years, I have a strong personal belief that the current curriculum in use in Ghana and Nigeria, especially those offered by the government-funded schools, are neither robust nor relevant to the success of the young ones in the rapidly-changing world of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies. More seriously, the children I have come across are not consciously trained to care for their community, their environment or for others by giving back to the community.

I intend to use the knowledge I will acquire with this degree to start a programme I have named ‘Give Back Programme’ modeled on the IB’s creativity, activity, service (CAS) to help young children learn more effectively by interacting with their communities and giving something back to their communities, which is in line with my philosophy that education should lead to tangible benefits for the society. Though this proves to be more challenging to do in reality, my fledgling programme has borne some fruit in Greenoak International School in Nigeria, where final year students spend two weeks volunteering to work in less-privileged schools in our community in various roles.

I believe strongly that the mark of a good teacher is his ability to cause a visible, positive change in the worldviews, behavior and willingness of young learners to become a force for improvement in their own world. This is my guiding principle that determines my actions and commitment levels as a teacher.

How does the University of the People (UoPeople) scholarship support your professional goals?

IB's University of the People M.Ed. scholarship award

The IB is offering a fully-funded scholarship for educators interested in earning a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree. We are looking for educators that are dedicated to education, the IB pedagogy and their local community. Awards for the 2020 spring cycle will be announced by 4 November 2020. Missed this round of applications? Not to worry! Check back for the winter cycle, which will open on 4 January 2021.

The opportunity provided by UoPeople to pursue an advanced degree without having to quit my job or leave my family for an extended period of time can only be described as God-send. As a professional with a clear knowledge of the necessity of continuous professional growth, this chance by UoPeople has enabled me to gain very practical skills that I am implementing in the classroom.

This means my school and my students benefit from my increased skills and knowledge, while at the same time I can continue to acquire more professional qualifications for future job opportunities. University of the People has helped me to fulfill my professional goals without the high expense and the need to quit my current job. That is the best part of the whole package.

 According to UNESCO, there is a global educator shortage, and we will need almost 69 million new teachers by 2030 What is the impact of having qualified educators for students?

Qualified educators have a direct and positive impact on the learning habits of students as well as the ability to develop lifelong learning traits in students under their care. Educators who are well-trained in modern teaching methods are more confident and have a more positive outlook on the possibility of all their students succeeding. UoPeople has made this possible by providing a good opportunity for many ambitious educators to upgrade themselves and to position themselves to become more relevant to the changing educational landscape.

Could you tell us about your first teaching experience?

I believe strongly that the mark of a good teacher is his ability to cause a visible, positive change”

My first major experience as a teacher happened at a very young age of 20, when I volunteered to be a teaching assistant for one year in a middle school in the Asante Kingdom of Ghana. This actually heightened my interest in the field of education. It was a critical foundational period of my teaching career, where my relationships with students and colleague teachers provided an essential platform for future interest in educational work. While this experience was short and interesting, it provided one of the key moments of acquiring important teaching skills, ethically acceptable behavior, teamwork spirit and proper planning as a teacher.

I consider the great friendships I established in this period as something to cherish for the rest of my life. The emotional attachments at this time were so dear and strong enough to convince me to pursue a career in the educational field. The task of helping to develop future leaders was too good to resist and this has been an enduring source of inspiration to me in this journey.

As an educator, what aspects of the IB inspire you the most?

I am more attracted to the IB programme for its rigorous nature, for its desire of creating a lifelong learner able to fit into global systems, and more importantly, for its aim of developing knowledgeable, inquiring and caring young people. I believe that the purpose of education definitely transcends the need for literacy and the preparation of young people for future jobs. Education should position young people to solve the problems that plague their societies. That is why I created a personal initiative that would enable young learners to develop an interest in giving back to their community. Education is of little use if it cannot be deployed to solve pressing problems in the society. A favorite quote from the inauguration speech of President J. F. Kennedy reveals the key mandate that every curriculum and educational stakeholder should endeavor to bring to the consciousness of all students: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country‘’.

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Gabriel Boateng is a seasoned teacher with wide experience in teaching history, politics and social studies in top schools in the Republic of Ghana and Nigeria. Gabriel holds a bachelor’s degree in history and psychology and advanced certifications in education, international relations, politics and the administration of electronic & distance learning from various institutions in India, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Gabriel currently works with a top International school in Ghana, where he lives happily with his family. He enjoys personal retreat into the mountains of Ghana and has a keen interest in religious and voluntary work for the community and humanity. Connect with Gabriel on LinkedIn here.

To hear more from the University of the People Awardees, check out these stories. We appreciate your support in sharing IB stories and invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter Instagram and YouTube!

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