Hope Initiative Programs (HIP) in Africa

Hope Initiative Programs (HIP) in Africa

Livingstone Kegode


Hope Initiative Programs (HIP) in Africa is a humanitarian organisation based in Kenya at Bungoma county. It was founded in 2015 by Livingstone Kegode and the co-founder Fredrick Manzugu.

The major reason for starting HIP Africa was to educate the most vulnerable children from rural areas and have them connected nationally and internationally to their peers through video conferencing platforms like Skype and Zoom. We also wanted to coordinate with educators and well wishers from around the globe to pay them a visit and volunteer in every aspect that would motivate these children.

Apart from a learning center, we have other programs like Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). WASH aims to provide the school and more than 1000 households in the community with  clean and drinkable water. Our kitchen garden provides learning opportunities and fresh vegetables for our school and the community. Our Information Communication Technology program (ICT) provides basic technological skills for our students and the young generation in the community. Above all, we have Community Based Education (CBE) too to act as a bridge between learners and the community.

HIP Africa has had a positive impact not only on its learners but also on the community at large. It has provided a place for students to access quality education for free, and has provided access to  clean and drinkable water for learners and the community. It is also providing meals twice a day in an effort to make sure that students can settle in class and concentrate on the learning that goes on. Most of the learners barely get a meal at home, thus, it is hard for them to concentrate in class. If we provide something for them. It makes them happy, healthy and able to concentrate in class. Most of the learners walk an average distance of three miles to reach the center, and some also have to cross the river in the foggy early mornings. This makes them exhausted and worn out before we even start our day, so we provide a cup of tea or porridge and a snack. The center has supplied water filters to more than 100 households in the community with an aim of reducing waterborne diseases in order to control absenteeism in school and to improve the health of the general community.

The center is trying to inspire, educate and create opportunities for the less fortunate to improve their well-being and achieve their dreams through our humanitarian, tailored support programs. The center also lays the foundation on which the community can transform its young people intellectually to curb ignorance, immorality, and drug abuse — and offer equal access to quality education through our educational programs.

HIP Africa has put more effort into enhancing learning through the use of technology and allows children to embrace self-discovery, teamwork, and problem-solving skills, thus promoting education for sustainable development and global citizenship through technology and other platforms.

HIP Africa is supported by donations, and is facing some new challenges in making our dreams come true. With the increase in population and COVID-19 regulation, one of our most urgent issues is the need to build additional classrooms to create more space for the students for proper distancing. Luckily, we have the blue print ready and approved, but are still looking for funds to put up two classrooms this year. Our ongoing challenges include a lack of enough food supply at the center, so sometimes students spend a day or two with nothing to eat, a lack of classroom materials for educators and learners, which makes teaching difficult, and a lack of funds to pay for our electricity bills. We use electricity for lighting, powering of our electronics and pumping of water from the drilled well to its storage. Sometimes we go for a week or two with no electricity, and this makes our operations difficult.

HIP Africa is dearly looking for well-wishers to sponsor its programs as it entirely relies on small donations from individuals. If you might be interested in joining our support team, please visit our website for more information and how to donate: www.thehipafrica.org, like our Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/HIPinAfrica and follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/hip_africa LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hip-africa-ba50b5205/

Smooth seas have never made skilled sailors

Faten RomdhaniSmooth seas have never made skilled sailors

Faten Romdhani


The title for my article comes from an African proverb that I believe reveals a lot about between teacher challenges and growth.

The challenges educators face in the developing world are vital in making professionals in the education field stronger, in the sense that challenges sharpen their adaptation skills. However, this requires that teachers are passionate enough about this profession to meet the challenges. Otherwise, they will simply quit and hate the day they chose to teach.

Nevertheless, even passionate teachers might endure setbacks, and might at times feel stuck somewhere and have difficulty finding the courage to work harder. They feel like they are “ploughing the sea”. The teachers’ endless physical, emotional efforts are met with a variety of results. Some teachers feel reborn each time they face a challenge. Others simply feel unable to carry on. This is indeed due to the intricacies of their emotional, attitudinal, and physical strength. Everyone is different. Professional teachers deliberately act strong both emotionally and physically, even though they might cry behind the scenes. They learn to be stronger after each professional failure and each disappointment.

Exceptional teachers are unsung heroes

 Asma is the name of an exceptional, passionate Tunisian teacher. She has defied all kinds of difficulties to be the teacher she is. I encountered her during one of my regular classroom visits and I will never forget the stamina, creativity, and empathy she displayed during my visit. I was amazed at the professional she is in an under-resourced boarding school in a remote area of the country. She made the classroom brighter; she pushed the students to be more confident and she added much warmth to the surroundings. Her empathy towards her students made her the “queen of hearts”. She is a teacher, who, despite all odds, carries her passion and verve ablaze. She is the reason students collaborate with each other and teach each other. What also surprised me is that she has regularly scheduled free sessions open to all students, the ones she taught and even the ones she did not teach. What made her do this? Her passion for her profession is unequaled. Any free time was devoted to those teens, to sharpen their team skills and propel their motivation.

We need more teachers like Asma

 Are the teachers who are like Asma becoming extinct?

No, not really. There are many unsung heroes like Asma, who do not get noticed or thanked. Counterintuitively, this rare species of teacher does not expect official gratitude, though they deserve it. They teach from the heart and go through many hardships, but never complain or make excuses. Education needs noble heroes like Asma.

COVID-19 has made it clear that our education system needs constant updating

 Thanks to COVID-19, we are more aware that the global digital divide is getting wider and wider. We are in dire need of renewing the tools so as to achieve some of our primary education goals. Socioeconomic factors are one of the major obstacles that slow down the process of renovation and revamping technology. Yet, with the untapped potential of the majority of professionals in the education sector, there are endless possibilities of learning that need to be taken. Professionals in Tunisia have valuable assets that would take the country to an upper level of development, but only if they are given the right opportunities.

Still, we need to work harder and stop making excuses. Miracles do not happen when people complain more than they work. Challenges exist, yet surmounting them is the first step towards  more constructive choices. Once the challenges inside one’s head are silenced, the challenges outside are not the real enemies.

We cling to HOPE despite all odds

 There is still hope that we are in the process of defying all odds. Teachers like Asma, many highly motivated teacher trainers I have learned much from,  other professionals I am co-working with, and many dedicated professionals in the field do make a difference and are blazing trails. Their mindset, their professionalism, their creativity represent the real light that paves the way towards a brighter tomorrow.

 “Ninety percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” George Washington Carver


COVID education: a window of hope or the writing on the wall?

Ayat TawelCOVID education: a window of hope or the writing on the wall?

Ayat Tawel


As the third most populous country in Africa with a rising population of over 100 million people, Egypt is facing many challenges that are not unique to Egypt but also apply to many other developing countries, and which can help identify common solutions. Quality education is one of the main challenges Egypt has been facing for a long time, which can be the key to reducing poverty and fostering social and economic development. Lack of quality education increases the risk that young people might be deprived of an education that meets the needs of the changing labour market. This has already resulted in a high percentage of unemployment in Egypt that is officially estimated at 10.31* but is generally considered to be significantly higher.

Some of the challenges facing the education system and directly affecting teachers in Egypt are:

Lack of school facilities

With the growing population and increasing number of students enrolling in schools – average class size of 45 and reaching up to 80 in some public schools – the investment in school facilities is very poor. Many of the public schools suffer from poor infrastructure and especially technological structure which is becoming a priority all over the world after the pandemic. Classes in some public schools are overcrowded to the extent that some students cannot find desks which is an evidence of poor facilities and lack of refurbishment and maintenance. Many schools don’t have a school library, science and computer labs or even decent office spaces for teachers.

Learning/Teaching for exams

For so many years, the focus of education in Egypt has been to pass the final exam to be able to move to the next year or graduate school or university. This placed a high value on exam grades which would decide a student’s future opportunities.

As a response to this heavy focus on exams, teachers who are required to follow the textbook as the main source of the exam started using teaching techniques that depend mainly on memorisation for the aim of long-term information retention. Rather than being engaged with the content of the lesson and encouraged to use critical thinking, students were directed towards rote learning and memorisation to be able to quickly recall the information in the final exam. This lack of engagement has turned the students into passive learners and had a negative impact on their motivation and the value they placed on education.

Quality and access to professional development

With lack of resources, teachers need to know what they can do with their limited resources and how to develop themselves professionally within the structure they have. If they are obliged to teach for the exam, finish the curriculum and make sure their students can retain information in the exam, how can they be creative and go beyond information retention? That’s one reason lack of teacher training and professional development is the biggest challenge facing teachers in Egypt. Researchers, authors, and teacher trainers are coming up with new tools and teaching techniques to help teachers develop and create a better learning experience for their students. However, without formal training opportunities, some teachers get lost and give up while those who are keen on their professional development, try independently to find out how to utilise these new tools in their classes. This can sometimes result in inconsistency in their teaching styles which might lead to frustration and lower job satisfaction. Teachers based in cities far from the capital or living in urban areas struggle to join any professional development events as most are held in big cities like Cairo or Alexandria, which is not convenient.

Before the list of challenges gets longer, I will shift now to looking into how these challenges have changed recently. While the corona virus pandemic has impacted the educational system in the whole world, its effect in developing countries was greater as they were not yet ready for new changes. So, let’s look at whether these changes are windows of hope or the writing on the wall for the educational system in Egypt.

Lack of school facilities

If we look at lack of refurbishment and maintenance as an example of poor infrastructure before COVID, we might think that suspending studies and closing schools for months made these challenges less important. However, as teachers were required to continue teaching online, other challenges such as the lack of communication and information technology infrastructure became a high priority post-COVID. Though the government had already made some efforts to digitalise Education in Egypt by launching the Egyptian Knowledge Bank (EKB) as a free source for educational materials, teachers knew very little about it until all school syllabuses were uploaded to it following the outbreak of COVID-19. So in spite of the fact that this step was a milestone to improve Egypt’s educational system, it had seen little progress as there was no clear strategy for students and teachers to follow.

Learning/Teaching for exams

In response to the pandemic and to minimise interaction between students during exams, a new examination system was introduced which required students to submit research papers based on what they have learnt in class or online. Unfortunately, neither students nor teachers were ready for this step as writing research papers was not one of the skills students usually learn at schools. Besides, the criteria for evaluating the students’ research papers were not clear to teachers. As there has always been a heavy focus on exams which can determine a student’s future, parents started writing and submitting the research papers for their kids . This resulted in kids not being evaluated accurately and teachers giving grades for work that doesn’t represent the student’s performance. In the long run, teachers will be filling in these gaps in education the following years and will still be expected to ensure quality!

Quality and access to professional development

Besides the open sources created by the government for all sectors of education such as  the EKB and other platforms, many other organisations started offering free online events for teacher development.  This made training opportunities more accessible and convenient for all teachers across all cities as they could join them from the comfort of their own places without having to commute or paying extra cost.

During the last year, some international associations such as IATEFL and TESOL organised many free events that covered a wide range of topics for teacher development. Nile Tesol is another teacher association in Egypt that has nine Special Interest Groups (SIGs) in all fields of teaching such as learning technology, teaching young learners, assessment, inclusive teaching, research, among others. Last year, Nile Tesol SIGs organised online monthly events on topics that addressed the needs of teachers in Egypt, taking into consideration the changes and challenges of the educational system pre- and post-COVID. The British Council and RELO have also contributed a lot to the development of teachers during this difficult time through many teacher development programs.

To wrap up, we all agree that COVID brought many challenges to education. But we should use COVID-19 challenges to pay more attention to the quality of education, continue to develop digital platforms and integrate sustainable education so we can improve the resilience of our education system and achieve sustainable development (Biltagy, 2021).

So, do you think COVID opened a window for hope or was just the writing on the wall?


Biltagy, M. (2021). How did Covid-19 Pandemic Impact Education in Egypt? Euro-Mediterranean economists association. https://euromed-economists.org/download/how-did-covid-19-pandemic-impact-education-in-egypt/

Challenges and opportunities in Argentina

Maria BossaChallenges and opportunities in Argentina

Maria Bossa


To start, it is good to clarify that my country, Argentina, is considered an underdeveloped country. However, the challenges it faces are in many ways the same as the challenges people face in more developed countries. Which challenges am I talking about?

Government corruption

Why would I start with this challenge? Because it is from governments that many teachers’ challenges begin, similar to a top-down reading approach. Governments promise millions of things and then when they are in power, they forget everything. We hear and read about promises for “better connectivity, better salaries, better education…”, sounds familiar, right? One example that comes to my mind is that some years ago, they started giving computers to all the students (the famous 1 to 1: 1 computer for 1 student). It was great… but… they forgot teachers! They said “we are giving 1 to 1” and we thought that it was going to be for everybody. Well… no… almost one million computers were handed out but none of them went to any teacher. After thousands of complaints, we finally got one which, of course, was older than the computers students had.

Technology challenges

Schools lack internet access and computers. In countries like mine where water is missing in some areas, connectivity is a real diamond. Lots of rural or suburban areas don’t have internet, therefore, students don’t have the chance to study when schools are closed, as they have been during the pandemic. They can’t connect to virtual classes, and we have to send our classes via WhatsApp or even walk to their homes. We are lucky when they can watch some videos on YouTube or even reply to our WhatsApp messages as they have to buy “internet cards” that provide a certain amount of time, and when it is over… it is over! I believe that people who are in government offices never see this reality. They sit inside four walls and think that everything is fantastic out in the street. I wonder if they have ever gone outside or if they have ever taught in real classes. I would be lying if I say that all of Argentina is the same but I should say that in regions some hundred kilometers away from Buenos Aires, our capital city, that is the situation.

The longest lockdown in the world

Students are reluctant to pay attention, parents are tired… I bet you (the reader) are nodding because this also happens to you. After one year and a half of listening and reading about COVID-19, I feel that we all share a similar burden on our backs. Last year, Argentina had the longest lockdown in the world: from March until mid-December! You cannot imagine how that affected everybody. We couldn’t go visit relatives, we couldn’t move from one province to the other, we had to stay inside! Lack of attention and tiredness are consequences of that. I am sure that TV channels, Netflix and other streaming apps had to update content every week in and for Argentina.

Working double or triple to make ends meet

Teachers work double or triple, yes, not only to make ends meet as our inflation is 42% annually but also because when working online, we have to prepare our classes, teach them and then correct students’ homework. In my case, I have 10 courses with 350 students in total. Officially I work 30 hours a week but I never count all the hours I spend at home, again, looking for material, preparing my classes and correcting. My eyes, my back and my buttocks are going crazy. I guess you must be surprised with my working time, but, in other provinces teachers have to work up to 54 hours each week and… money is never enough. My salary is about US$ 329 (1 AR$ equals 167US$ more or less) per month so with that inflation rate, it is hard to live.

It is not that all the blame falls on governments because we are also responsible for our own knowledge and for our own training. Those are challenges we have to face because we have to constantly look for material, courses, congresses and now, webinars. And this is hard, too, because it is difficult to find free online courses (unless they are offered by embassies or offer scholarships). We tend to work with colleagues and share resources. I am fortunate because I can still save and pay for some extras if I like, but not many can do this.

I still love teaching!

After all this, you might be wondering why I am STILL a teacher. Good question! Because I love it, because it is my passion and because I believe that education is the only door (and window) to better opportunities, whether we live in a developed or in an underdeveloped country.