Educational and technological disparities amplified by COVID-19 are leaving students in underserved communities around the world behind. Education technology interventions during this crisis only work for those students who have access to technology. UNESCO estimates that more than 800 million students left at home during quarantines don’t have computer access. This issue will outlast COVID-19 as we move further into the 21st century. Turning towards the long term, the Playing For Change Foundation (PFCF) proposes to connect the unconnected with inclusive technologies across marginalized communities at 15 PFCF program locations across the African, Asian, and South America continents. We propose to do so by strengthening collaborative partnerships between the non-profit sector and educational institutions across these communities through technological access. This serves to: 1) promote continuous learning among youth with a strong basis in technology; 2) provide professional development to local leaders and teachers; and 3) connect underprivileged students around the world in an environment of social mindedness.
Our proposal includes equipping PFCF programs with interactive and collaborative technology, basic ICT trainings to lead dynamic learning, and connecting students across programs to promote cultural understanding and exchange. We envision breaking down digital barriers to create an inclusive world, where students can learn together, share music together, and create positive change together.
Proposed activities include equipping these programs, and consequently their communities, with enhanced internet capability and collaborative technologies. We want to connect classrooms across remote and underserved communities internationally so we can facilitate dynamic instruction, co-creation among students, and engaging mulit-cultural (and multi-platform) activities that are currently not accessible in the communities where PFCF operates.
Additionally, access to these resources will allow local teachers to lead more interactive and immersive activities for their students, separate from collaborative video conferences. This project will be the first of its kind to provide this kind of technology locally. Access to online resources such as management portals for curricula and videos to supplement learning will transform the way our students will learn and expand interest in technology skills. We can also implement collaborative interfaces with professionals identified by PFCF to benefit both local teachers through professional development and local students through cross-cultural learning.
Activities proposed will be designed around and coordinated through a new digital portal created by PFCF for our NPO leaders and teachers. This PFCF Digital Portal is currently in the development stage, and the version for our program in Mali can be found here: https://playingforchange.org/k-dashboard/ password: musicisthekey-kirina. We expect this portal to be operational by August 2020.
Enhancing digital capacities serves to provide technology and technology trainings that are not accessible to these groups due to social, economic, geographic, or gender restrictions in these countries. Through these technological interventions, we can change local realities about the types of resources and skill sets that are possible.
Our international programs:
L’Ecole de Musique de Kirina in the rural community of Kirina in southern Mali was founded to use cultural heritage to change the lives of local youth. Many youth engage in the dangerous and even fatal practice of gold mining, and the high school graduation rates as well are very poor. Traditional music, dance, language lessons, and even gardening are offered at the program. It is the only cultural and youth organization in Kirina. Gender development is a particular focus of the program. This project will support up to 200 local, regular youth and 12 staff members, as well as material capacity support detailed above.
The Bizung School of Music and Dance in northern Ghana takes the ancestral tradition of the Bizung “talking drum” to engage youth with cultural and music activities, which are otherwise not accessible in the urban community of Tamale. Programming includes traditional music, dance, as well as modern blues music and even an in-house studio for youth to record and learn new technological skills. This project will support up to 90 local, regular youth and 12 staff members, as well as material capacity support.
The Joudour Sahara Music Program in the small town of M’hamid el Ghizlane in southeastern Morocco serves as the only access point locally for youth to express themselves creatively. Joudour Sahara focuses on traditional music and dance from several diverse ethnic tribal groups who settled in the oasis of M’hamid from different corners of the Sahara desert centuries ago. The program also engages youth through blues music, dance, and community events. Cultural preservation and gender development are particular focuses of this program. This project will support up to 70 local, regular youth and eight staff members, as well as material capacity support.
The Ubuntu Music Program in the capital of Kigali and the community of Masaka targets at-risk youth risk inside two elementary and high schools. Traditional drumming, dance and modern blues music, as well as sports are offered to students. Cultural activities for youth from the communities where the Ubuntu Music Program operates are not otherwise accessible. “Ubuntu” itself means “humanity towards others,” and the Ubuntu philosophy can be summed up as “I am because we are”. This project will support up to 150 local, regular youth and six staff members, as well as material capacity support.
The Imvula Music Program in the Gugulethu and townships surrounding Cape Town operates inside 10 elementary and high schools in some of the poorest communities in the Cape Town region. African styles of music and western music styles are offered to local students. In the face of extreme inequality, the Imvula program ensures that youth from the most marginalized communities have access to express themselves creatively. Cultural activities would otherwise not be available to them. This project will support up to 300 local, regular youth and 11 staff members, as well as material capacity support.
The Mother’s Society Tintale Village, located in the Udayapur district in eastern Nepal, is one of the poorest and most marginalized communities in all of Nepal. Beginning as a movement among 35 local women to change their lives and daughters’ futures, the Mother’s Society has reached thousands of community members across villages spread throughout the region. They use music and dance to engage community members and have real conversations about the dangers of sex-trafficking, early marriage, domestic abuse, sustainable incomes through livestock and sewing, among many other themes. This project will support up to 100 local, regular youth and 35 staff members, as well as material capacity support..
The Udayapur Music Program is also located in Tintale Village, as well as another location in the small town of Katari. Udayapur reaches almost 150 youth between the two locations, providing music education, as well as other music and dance activities. Facing major obstacles due to class inequality, the local team has worked for over a decade to prove to community members that music can be a powerful tool to tell the stories from the community and promote community development. Both the Mother’s Society and Udayapur programs are now well established in their communities. This project will support up to 125 local, regular youth and six staff members, as well as material capacity support.
The Musica Music Institute in Lalitpur, Nepal, just outside the capital of Kathmandu, began in a drum shop and has expanded into the current program reaching 60 youth each week. The program offers vocals, keyboard, guitar and drums classes. The program has expanded to also include access to computers, and the ability to introduce recording classes and is hosting public performances so the students can showcase what they’ve learned. This project will support up to 60 local, regular youth and seven staff members, as well as material capacity support.
The Mitrata Music Program in the capital city of Kathmandu, Nepal, is located at an orphanage and engages the youth in most need of structured activities. Featuring a staff of professional musicians, this program offers sarangi, flute, madal drums, traditional Nepali dance and art classes to more than 60 youth each week. Without this program, these youth would not have access to music and the arts. This project will support up to 60 local, regular youth and seven staff members, as well as material capacity support.
The Khlong Toey Music Program in the Khlong Toey slum serves some of the poorest and most marginalized youth in Thailand. Resources, opportunities, and expectations for a bright future are scarce in this community. Modern music instruments and ensemble performance are offered at this program. In 2012, this program had up to 4 volunteers, a few instruments, and a few students. Now, there are 10 staff members, over 100 instruments, and 80 youth who attend regularly, which this project will support, as well as material capacity support.
The Mirpur Music Program, located in the Mirpur slums within the larger municipality of Dhaka, offers free music programming to the poorest youth. Some locals live on as little as $50 / month. Poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition are devastating locally. Albeit a small team locally, this program provides regular programming to over 850 youth across several elementary schools locally. Musicalization, rhythm exercises, and traditional songs are offered. This project will support up to 850 local, regular youth and four staff members, as well as material capacity support.
The PFC Patagonia program located in the city of General Roca takes a multifaceted approach to youth and gender development. Music classes, orchestras, organic farming and gardening, carpentry, among other activities reach almost 500 youth and women from the region. PFC Patagonia works with local and national government offices to support their programming. Hip hop, graphic arts, instruments making, as well as languages are also offered. Patagonia employs 14 staff members. This project will provide material capacity support.
The PFC Diamante program located in the city of Diamante, north of Buenos Aires, offers guitar, percussion, accordion singing lessons, as well as traditional music programming to local youth. Diamante is the only access point for local youth to engage with music and the arts. Renowned musician Lee Oskar has partnered with Diamante to provide harmonicas and harmonica lessons. This project will support up to 50 local, regular youth and eight staff members, as well as material capacity support.
The Baja Musical Arts Initiative, located in Tijuana, turns music education and orchestral performance into tools for social cohesion in a community overwhelmed by gang violence. Choir classes, body movement, harmony, as well as instrument classes are offered to youth. Program leaders use these classes as tools to build a sense of teamwork, and provide community concerts to show family members and the community at large the fruits of their children’s efforts. BMAI reaches 100 youth weekly and employs 10 staff members. This project will provide material capacity support.
The Cajuru Music Program in Cajuru, Brazil drives youth development and social cohesion in the suburb of the larger urban center of Curitiba, just a few miles away. The program’s leaders use music as a tool for education to reach local youth, instilling self-confidence, providing structured and supervised activities, and promoting a larger sense of community. This project will support up to 60 local, regular youth and 11 staff members, as well as material capacity support.