University of Calgary

Devastation to education


Researchers and students from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Education are earning a global reputation as the go-to people for education reform in conflict-ridden countries. From the volatile border towns of southern Lebanon to battle-scarred cities in Kosovo, they are joining forces with local communities to rebuild school systems devastated by war. 

The geography may differ, but the goals of each project are the same—to help local educators create modern school systems by training them in the latest leadership and learner-centred education theories. To reach the critical mass needed to overturn outdated practices, U of C teams use a train-the-trainers approach to ripple ideas across teaching communities. 

“By bringing people together, they develop a shared culture and understanding of educational change and the hope is they can work together—all singing from the same songbook—regardless of what’s gone on in the past,” says Tim Goddard, the U of C’s vice-provost (international). 

Goddard is leading teams of faculty members, students and education partners in World Bank and CIDA-funded projects in Lebanon and western China. A recently completed six-year project in Kosovo was deemed by external evaluators to be one of Canada’s best interventions worldwide in the last 25 years. 

Closer to home, these projects have established Calgary as a hub of educational reform expertise, and opened up opportunities for U of C students like Ana-Marija Petrunic to work and research in the field. Petrunic used her Kosovo experience for her MA thesis—particularly timely as teachers in that region head back into the classrooms where the seeds of a new civil society are being planted.

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