Over the last 24 hours, the Building Tomorrow staff have received a number of e-mails, text messages and phone calls wondering what we think of the recent allegations brought against Greg Mortenson, the author of Three Cups of Tea and co-founder of the Central Asia Institute. Though word began leaking on Friday about the 60 Minutes piece that aired on Sunday evening, we’d imagine the public is at the very beginning of what will be a long back and forth between Mr. Mortenson and his critics.
Regardless of where the truth lies, the allegations against Mr. Mortenson have undoubtedly thrust in to the spotlight the importance of transparency and disclosure in the work done by organizations with missions similar to the Central Asia Institute, including Building Tomorrow.
The work of establishing new schools in rural, hard to reach locales is not easy. Our Country Director Joseph Kaliisa just today wrapped up a trip to the United States, speaking on a host of college campuses and detailing the difficulties he and his staff encounter. While stateside, audiences who heard Joseph will recognize the phrase he often used in describing Building Tomorrow’s work with local communities. As he says, “it is a give and take.”
What Joseph goes on to describe is Building Tomorrow’s philosophy that in every aspect of our work, communities must embrace their role in improving access to education. While Building Tomorrow will provide materials, community members must provide thousands of hours of labor to build the structure. When we recently received funds to cover secondary school tuition for a handful of our students, parents and extended family members had to come up with the costs of a uniform, books, stationary and other essentials.
We also realize that once we build a school, the work has really only just begun. It is why we work to ensure the Ministry of Education fulfills their commitment to a Memorandum of Understanding signed prior to the construction of each Building Tomorrow Academy and the salaries of teachers are funded. This summer, BT will be working to better understand how we can better train and equip teachers in our classrooms and hopefully implementing such a plan by year’s end. While we’re encouraged by our early successes, we know there is much, much more to be done.
Work being done on behalf of children who are without access to a proper education is incredibly importantâ€”not just in one corner of the world, but all over the globe. Building Tomorrow is just one of many organizations trying to do their part to support education through a model we continue to refine, critique and open up to criticism. We hope amidst the questions that will certainly persist, the work lying before humanity to ensure every child receives a quality primary school education will remain a priority in which we all collectively choose to invest.
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