Saturday, May 12, 2007

What’s the vision?

What if you have a really, big scary vision? One so big that you can hardly dare to dream it? A dream so full of hubris that you only dare to peep at it occasionally. It glimmers at you in the darkness by the side of the road. You glance out of the corner of your eye, pretending that it isn’t really there. In good times, it shines a bit brighter, beckoning you. In bad times it fades away as though it was never real, so there is no need to be disappointed about something that was never real anyway.

Mt Everest

That’s how Gemma is with her biggest dream. In 2002, she started out with a village school with a couple of classrooms and a handful of children. Now, in 2007 she has 850 kids and she is building a second school 30 km away. She is developing curriculum and training teachers, laying the foundations for effective school management that will scale up to many schools. Because her big scary goal is not to run a village school, or two schools. Her big scary dream is to establish a network of independent schools across East Africa.

These schools will provide excellent education to bright children from the poorest households. From the basics of literacy, numeracy and English language, through to full professional qualifications, this network of schools will educate the professionals and leaders that are needed for these desperately poor African countries to climb the ladder of prosperity.

If you want to climb Mt Everest, you’ll need to dedicate several years of your life to getting fit, saving the money and organising the climb. But if you want to establish a network of independent schools that offer free education for hundreds of bright children, you’ll need to dedicate your whole life, and to inspire hundreds of others to come on board and help out.

Route climb for Mt Everest

If you want to climb Mt Everest, you need to find a guide who will take you in the footsteps of those who went before. But if you want to establish a self-sustaining network of independent schools in East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi), you have to define the path as you go, each step of the way. No one has done this before. You discover the challenges and dead-ends as you go along.

Educating bright children builds a future for individuals, families, communities and countries who are humbled by even the most modest dreams.

So, I want to encourage you not to be shy. I want to encourage you to dare to dream that this big, scary goal is achievable. The more of us who are dreaming this dream, the more brightly it will shine and the more strongly it will beckon.

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