What is Education without Barriers?
Education without Barriers(EWB), an American 501(3)c non-profit organization, was founded in August, 2016 by students from Harvard university and Yale School of Medicine as well as Harvard Summit for Young Leaders in China (HSYLC). By April, 2017, EWB has more than 100 members and is receiving volunteer applicants from seven countries in Asia, North America, Europe and Oceania.
What are the defects of existing mainstream teaching mode, e.g. MOOCs and short-time voluntary teaching? How can EWB make up for the defects?
As people are more aware of orphans’ right to living and education, MOOCs and traditional short-time voluntary teaching in the field are two popular ways to fill the gap of education resources for orphans. However, these two modes are with unavoidable defects.
MOOCs is a distance learning mode through network recording, or more precisely, using electronic devices and the internet as medium. But this education mode is aimed at people with basic knowledge and self-learning ability; it may not be suitable for the vulnerable children who lack self-discipline and good learning habits. Moreover, people can’t communicate with each other and provide immediate answers timely, thus seriously reducing class enthusiasm and efficiency.
Short-time voluntary teaching in the field also has serious problems. First, the children are of different age, social status and education background, making teaching methods, communication techniques and class setting less standard, systematic and continuous. What’s worse, a knowledge point might be taught twice and volunteer’s comprehension of textbooks contrary to the intended meaning of textbooks. Thus, teaching effects are not guaranteed. Second, very few voluntary organizations provide volunteers with training before teaching children, which might hurt children again both physically and psychologically; for instance, volunteers might hurt children because of their unconscious material abundance and high mobility of volunteers forces children to face separation as soon as they establish a relationship with volunteers. Third, some profit organizations don’t intend to actually help children when holding such activities; some even charge volunteers for providing NGO certificates to maintain their operation. Moreover, volunteer organizations, some even of international level, are not able to select applicants efficiently, leading to a waste of resources. Worse still, some volunteers just want make a show rather than help children, who are sometimes hurt when taught by these volunteers. According to Dr. Wang Gangyi, village head of Dalian Yangguang Yihong Children’s village, although most people coming to the village intended good, not everyone have the same good motive.
Well aware of the defects of MOOCs and voluntary teaching in the field, we decided to adopt a more efficient way. When talking to Haixiang, a grade-four school student in the children’s village, we found that many mistakes he made when taking exams were not corrected on the papers. After a further talk to her, we realized that this was because Haixiang didn’t understand the knowledge in class but asked the teacher may lead to physical punishment, therefore she still didn’t understand the knowledge points，this is a vicious cycle.
Haixiang’s situation generates our awareness that what the children need most is not fresh knowledge delivered through distance education and voluntary teaching, but conscientious, detailed and personalized after-class tutoring to help their improve academic performance in school.
Making sure that our goal is not teaching but tutoring, we adopt the more convenient distance education to make up for the short time of voluntary teaching and use face-to-face teaching to increase exchanges between teachers and students through online courses. We propose one on one real-time online tutoring, facilitating efficient interaction between teachers and students while providing children with a platform to share their sorrows and joys with teachers.
What is the future plan of EWB?
We are going to promote free online tutorial courses in five Chinese orphanages within one year. Meanwhile, we plan to recruit more international volunteers and bilingual translators and give them training, so as to teach children standard English. We will also seek for more cooperation with organizations both at home and abroad. Training courses on job-employment will be provided to orphans who are about working age.
Apart from the plans mentioned above, we also plan to cooperate with technical organizations in Silicon Valley to provide a larger number of better-quality multimedia facilities. Our online tutorial courses will make improvements, too. Moreover, we will keep raising the standard of volunteer selection and ensure professional and systematic training for our volunteers. A communication platform for volunteers and consultants will be designed too, so that teaching processes can be linked with each other, which in turn will increase communication efficiency and reduce internal friction. We hope to work with other educational organizations and experts so we can provide children with the most targeted, suitable and valuable courses. Counseling teachers will be recruited to directly communicate with children so as to ensure their mental health; the teachers will also carry out training courses for volunteers. We endeavor to provide high-quality education, which therefore expand our influence and raise social awareness for the education of orphans. For the future of orphans, we urge all people keen on public good to join us, support us, and help us.
It is our belief that love can conquer all difficulties. We believe in the power of education, as well as the ever-lasting value of perseverance. We want to offer the children in need our best educational resources through a bridge of love. We will, as always, persist in what we have been working on. We will do our utmost to progressively improve our online tutorial courses, as well as academic performance of disadvantaged children worldwide. Just as our aim goes, “It’s all about helping others.” Love can light up our life!
What is the required working time of volunteers?
EWB will arrange the time of classes based on volunteer teachers’ available time. There is one class from 7 pm to 8 pm and one from 8 pm to 9 pm per week (Beijing time). All the volunteer teachers need to take on at least one class a week. If unable to make it on time out of special circumstances, volunteers are required to ask for permission beforehand and exchange classes with others.
What should be taught in class and what is the time span?
We currently focus on Chinese, Math, English for primary school students, and Math, English, Chemistry, Physics and quality-oriented courses for junior high school students. The weekly class takes one hour, while regular plan- making, class preparation and feedback recording take about three hours per week. Thus the overall time required is four hours.
What are the requirements for application?
Since we focus on tutorial classes for primary and junior high school students, applicants should have a good command of relevant knowledge. Patience and carefulness are also required qualities for volunteers to answer children’s questions. Due to the fact that EWB is an online organization, applicants must be self-disciplined persons who can finish their work timely and actively, and be amiable who can work in harmony with other working staff.
What if I don’t have voluntary experiences?
When selecting potential volunteers, we will make thorough considerations based on individual cases. We are willing to recruit those excellent persons whether they have voluntary experiences before. Also, training courses will be provided before official voluntary works. Therefore, you can try to apply for positions in EWB even without any experience in volunteering or class-teaching.
What can I get in EWB?
- The EWB volunteer certificate, a quarterly certificate of award（including records of volunteer time）
- Volunteers who work over one year can receive EWB official recommendation letters, which is useful when applying for foreign and domestic universities.
- A better self. You will make notable personal improvements in ability related with thinking, time-management, academic performance, leadership, self-expression, as well as team-working
- Get to know other excellent volunteers who come from all over the world.
- An opportunity to interact closely with children in need and together make improvements.
- Get access to top-secret educational resources from Harvard and other world-renowned schools. Receive up-to-date information, suggestions, and experiences related but no limited to school-applying, exam-preparing, internship as well as running of non-profit organizations.
How to join us?
To be our volunteer, you need to apply online first. You are to fill in an application form including your personal information, academic performance and subjects you’re good at and to answer some subjective questions. You will be eligible for an interview after passing the online application. The interview gives us an opportunity to know about you from many aspects and also gives you a platform to show your academic ability and communication skills. You need to take at least one interview before joining EWB.
If you want to apply, please follow us on wechat(ewb_org), where all EWB news will be updated. We are looking forward to having you in our EWB family.