Here at Good-Loop, we’re incredibly proud to support Think Equal as one of our partner charities. Already more than 1000 people have chosen to support Think Equal through the Good-Loop ethical ad platform.
So we thought it might be worthwhile to share a bit more of the story behind this feisty little charity and to celebrate their amazing work that Good-Loop and our advertisers are helping to fund.
How it all began…
When Leslee Udwin heard news of the gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh on a Delhi bus in 2012, she didn’t hit mute or change the channel - she took action. Formerly a feature filmmaker, Udwin flew to India to make a documentary to answer the question: why do men rape? This journey led her to interview the rapists in jail, and the resulting film caused such uproar that it was banned by the Indian government, despite protestations from the population.
But her initial question was disrupted when she realised rapists were not the primary issue. “Gender inequality is the problem,” she says. “Rape, honour killings, and acid attacks are metastases of that cancer, and it begins when a girl is less welcome than a baby boy.” She realised that if the problem is gender inequality, then the solution is therefore to promote gender equality.
Fighting gender inequality through education
Thus Think Equal was born, the first global education initiative to be endorsed by the UN Human Rights Office, that is introducing social and emotional intelligence learning to children between the ages of 3-5 years. The reason for the target ages is that neuroscientists have studied the neuroplasticity of the brain, concluding that you can change attitudes and behaviours between ages of 3 and 5 optimally, which then sticks for life. Udwin knows as a filmmaker that you must grab hearts through narrative, and so books have been designed to teach children universal values of compassion, empathy and respect and also key skills of critical thinking, peaceful conflict resolution, citizenship and life skills.
The organisation is young, but in 18 months has managed to partner with Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence and Montessori, and bring global experts together to design a curriculum that includes 140 lesson plans from 35 books, constructed in three levels, for 3-5 year olds. The global initiative has been launched as a pilot programme across 1,055 schools in 17 countries, including Canada, UK, Botswana and Kenya. Sri Lanka in particular has seized the opportunity, changing the law in signing a cross-party agreement so that the curriculum is now compulsory for all children aged 3.
Sustainable, scalable impact
In terms of the costs of the program, Udwin acknowledges: “The day we charge anything we give the schools, is the day we lose our mission - our only ambition is to make this difference in the world for value-based human rights education.”
As such, Think Equal relies on sponsors and the generosity of publishers and designers, but where the program really proves its worth is in offsetting costs. The Sri Lankan government has calculated that the expense of disseminating the materials to its 19,000 preschools and training teachers is exactly same cost of dealing with 2 victims of violence in one year including medical bills, therapy, and loss of earnings.
If the curriculum teaches a generation empathy and peaceful conflict resolution, then the national savings will be tangible, given that right now 4.2% of Sri Lankan GDP is spent on containment of violence. Schools have already come together to compare notes on how classrooms are being positively transformed due to Think Equal, and this is only the beginning.
Good-Loop is proud to be supporting Think Equal. Like Leslee, you too can take action to support future generations; when you see an advert (such as the one below) bearing the Good-Loop logo, watch it for 15 seconds and you can choose for that advertiser to donate to Think Equal on your behalf.
This blog post was written by guest contributor Briony Cartmell.
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