Name: Nik Kafka
Organisation: Teach A Man To Fish
Country: United Kingdom (UK)
Helping people to help themselves - Education represents a powerful tool for generating jobs, improving incomes, and expanding the opportunities available to young people in developing countries. TeachAManToFish is creating an international network of agricultural schools & partner NGOs committed to sustainable approaches to tackling rural poverty. We want to make the benefits of a vocational education open to all who want it, and support those organisations who share this aim. Our Vision: A world free from the extremes of absolute poverty, one in which all individuals are able to enjoy the empowering benefits of an education that meets their needs and aspirations in life. Our Mission: To broaden access for the disadvantaged to an agricultural vocational education by supporting institutions working in this field to increase their financial self-sufficiency. TeachAManToFish and its network members are guided in this work by an agreed set of common principles. Core Principles :- 1. Student Welfare We will strive to provide a safe environment in our schools. The mental and physical welfare of our students comes before everything else. 2. Educational Standards We exist to educate. Educational goals will always supersede any other aims our programmes have. 3. Empowering the Disadvantaged We believe in education as a vital means of escaping poverty. We will seek in to empower students from low income families and marginalised communities as a priority. 4. Environmental Sustainability We respect the environment. In all our activities we will aim to minimise our impact on the environment, and maximise our contribution to its preservation. 5. Financial Sustainability We will strive to become financially self-sufficient. We will live by the principles we teach. In teaching our students how to produce a living income from activities, we will endeavour to generate sufficient income from these activities to cover all costs. We Are Committed To:- Local Ownership We are here to support our members, not to tell them what to do. Schools will always retain full control of how their activities are run. Transparency We believe in openness. Transparency aids organisational learning and inspires trust. Schools will share financial and technical information both within the network, and within their communities. Equality We value all individuals equally. Schools will strive to incorporate gender equality into their programmes, and will not discriminate by race or religion. Entrepreneurship We see enterprise as a powerful force for economic prosperity. Schools will seek to provide their students the tools and inspiration to create wealth for themselves and their communities. Innovation We view innovation as crucial to long term success. Schools will embrace experimentation as a means of consistently improving their programmes. Background TeachAManToFish was born out of the pioneering work of the Fundacion Paraguaya - a large Latin American NGO committed to poverty reduction through supporting small businesses. Working in rural settings, particularly in agriculture, proved extremely challenging. Small-scale farmers were often skilled in production yet constantly ran into financial difficulties because they lacked basic business skills. The opportunity to manage an agricultural school that had run into funding difficulties offered a way of plugging this skills gap. With no support from the state, and unpredictable funding from donors, it soon became obvious that for the school to survive as a long-term proposition it would have to be able to generate its own funds. On track for full financial self-sufficiency, and having received international recognition for the quality of education delivered, the time was right to bring these ideas before a wider audience. Teaming up with a UK group passionate about the role of education in poverty reduction, TeachAManToFish was born - and is now busy creating an international network of agricultural schools committed to sustainable approaches to tackling rural poverty. Self-Sufficient Schools - A New Paradigm At its simplest a self-sufficient school is one that generates enough income to cover the costs of providing a quality education to its students. A hands on approach Agricultural vocational schools have long appreciated the benefits of 'learning-by-doing' no one ever learnt to drive a tractor from reading a book! Skills are often best learnt on-the-job, and improve by practise. Generating income Where refining skills is aimed at delivering a product of marketable quality - from honey to maize to milk - the natural next step is to actually make and sell this product. Schools rarely have difficulties finding a use for income generated in this way! Scaling up Although it requires a substantial effort to create a demonstration production environment for teaching purposes, it is often proportionately not much harder to produce the same product on a much larger scale. For products in developing countries where commercial enterprises often lack the very skills being taught, scaling up can justifiably result in greater productivity than the market norm. Self-Sufficiency When each activity across a school's curriculum is taught in this manner 'being effectively run as a profitable business unit' financial self-sufficiency becomes a realistic prospect. Value as a Model Self-sufficiency is really just a means to an end - to providing a quality vocational education that opens up prospects for graduates to earn a decent living, and create jobs for others. There is another valuable benefit of maintaining self-sufficiency as a goal - institutional fitness. Self-sufficient schools are denied the complacency of institutions which can rely on regular funding irrespective of performance. Like regular businesses they must adapt, innovate, and constantly renew themselves just to stand still. The discipline this requires serves as an inspiration to students, and ensures of necessity that the education they receive is focussed on skills from which they can earn a livelihood.