Education for sustainable (Community) development

Extreme poverty remains a huge challenge at international level and one that traditional education often struggles to solve. Another pressing challenge in the context of global education is solving the youth unemployment crisis, with 75 million people aged 16 to 24 currently unemployed. Therefore, it is more important than ever that they leave school not just with good grades, but armed with skills, knowledge, attitudes and values that will help them succeed.

Venuste believes that education is the key to tackling youth unemployment and poverty worldwide. Through his organization (International Transformation Foundation) Venuste has established various educational projects that are both educational and profitable – teaching students business and entrepreneurial skills, and generating much-needed income for schools. He believes in providing a relevant education - that bridges the gap between school and work – meaning students leave school ready to get a good job or set up their own business, and reach their full potential in life.

Venuste’s educational mission is to enable schools to provide a relevant education, through school based enterprises, that empower young people to succeed in work and in life. There are three core principles that guide his philosophy in education for sustainable development in line with his work concept of helping others to help themselves:

  • Poverty Reduction – Venuste’s programs intend to eradicate extreme poverty. His main focus is on students from low-income families and marginalized communities.
  • Education – Venuste’s programs also exist to educate. His educational goals supersede any other aims.
  • Entrepreneurship – Venuste’s programs foster entrepreneurship. He views entrepreneurship as an effective means to economic prosperity. His programs do this by promoting school based enterprises to provide students with the skills and inspiration they need to generate wealth for themselves and their communities.

In his approach to sustainable education and providing a common foundation for community development, Venuste uses the following principles that transcend differences in geography, culture, religion and politics;

  1. Student Welfare – Students are of great value since they are the core of the education system. Schools should provide safe environments where the physical, mental and emotional well-being and growth of students is always a priority.
  2. Equality – Venuste believes that there is great value and potential within each individual thus schools should strive to provide opportunities to underprivileged segments of society regardless of gender, race, or religion and to rectify the effects of historic discrimination
  3. Empowerment of the disadvantaged – Venuste’s education programs choose to empower people and not just provide resources. Schools should also focus on empowering their students with the capacity and confidence they need to change their own situations and assist their communities.
  4. Innovation – Venuste firmly believes that innovation is crucial to long term success. He encourages schools to embrace experimentation as a means of consistently improving their programs.
  5. Transparency – Transparency is core for any institution to create and sustain trust with its stakeholders. Schools should regularly share financial, production and academic results and processes in order to build trust and get aids for organizational learning.
  6. Local Ownership – Through his programs, Venuste always strives to protect local ownership. Local adaptation is one of the crucial strengths of his approach and though his programs offer support and resources, schools should retain self-determination in all their programmes.
  7. Community Outreach – Venuste believes that communities should be actively involved in coming up with solutions to issues affecting them. Schools should not be isolated in community outreach since they are a core part of the community. Schools can make their contribution by practicing problem-solving abilities, sharing knowledge, and giving of time and resources to make concrete positive contributions to communities.
  8. Evaluation - When performance is measured, performance improves. Venuste holds the opinion that constant self and peer evaluation enables us to celebrate successes, tackle challenges and appreciate the impact of the programs we have in communities and around the world.
  9. Growth and Expansion – Venuste’s education programs strive for growth and expansion by undertaking processes of expansion and replication as soon as they are available and building a network that reaches further and further into the depths of rural poverty.

Universal primary education will never be sufficient on its own to give young people from developing countries a real chance to escape poverty. It also requires post-primary education focused on practical and business skills to match genuine opportunities within their communities. Unfortunately, governments struggle to provide the resources for such education. If governments can't meet this need, non-state actors will also have to rise to the challenge. But the old model of charity-funded short-term education projects is also not sufficient to create lasting capacity - what's needed is models that allow schools to meet the need for relevant education in their community indefinitely. That is why the international education community is looking now for such approaches and models which are sustainable, but also replicable and scalable.

Venuste’s education for sustainable development program pioneered through International Transformation Foundation meets all these criteria and is currently being successfully replicated in schools and communities around East Africa. His program involves school based enterprises which is a business that is owned by a school but is led and staffed by its students. The innovative school business approach provides a high-quality, low-cost business and skills-based education that is reinforced by hands-on experience. At the same time school enterprises build schools’ ability to generate a sustainable income and plan for their future.

Venuste’s Vision is a world free from poverty where all young people are able to reach their full potential in life.