What a year it has been for all of us – our students, moderators and the English Forward team. Which one of us would have imagined the world we live in now when the clock struck 12 for 2020?
I was chatting with Sue and the kids yesterday about living on the west coast earlier this year March (9 months ago) – was it only 9 months ago? – it seems longer, when we had 2 days to pack up our lives and rush back to the east coast for an unknown period of time.
I never thought it would be the start of a new way of living.
In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Many countries, in response to COVID-19, applied strict social distancing measures, new hygiene protocols and a lockdown policy.
It wasn’t a hard thing to accomplish for us, and the seemingly simple suggestions that quickly became commands – wash your hands and keep your distance – were easy for us to accomplish, but this was really difficult for millions of our students around the world.
Many of them live in shacks and shanty towns where water is very scarce, precious and a tradable commodity, and social distancing impossible if you live with 10 other people in a one room shack.
We know that this year has been even more difficult than the difficulties they face every day in getting an education that can help them escape the dire situations of poverty many of them are in.
The one thing that COVID-19 has highlighted is the widening gap in inequality that exists globally today. This is reflected in education opportunities.
The pandemic has had a serious impact on schools, students and teachers that use the English Forward platform in the parts of the world where schools function in the normal sense of the word.
But in many countries, millions of our students didn’t have access to a decent school before COVID-19.
What was taboo in many countries (and illegal in some) – homeschooling – became the norm and even compulsory, forcing parents and teachers to reassess priorities and systems, and come up with innovative ways of teaching.
We are resilient as humans. We adapted. We have changed and learned. Life goes on.
And yet for so many of our students, it stayed the same, even with the rapid changes and advances in education, their opportunities have not improved.
We understand that, and it drives us forward in our mission to build a platform that can contribute to the improvement in their situation and the way education can play a positive part in their daily lives.
I spent time reflecting on why I originally invested in English Forward and what I hoped to achieve through the process, and I think this year has amplified those thoughts.
- 50%+ of the information on the internet is in English but only 20% of people speak and understand English. English Forward can be the “educational” bridge between students getting access to the vital information they need to rise above impossible circumstances.
- Many people live on less than $1 a day (less than a bottle of hand sanitizer). Utilizing a blockchain platform we could allow students to “earn as they learn”, turning the English language into a currency.
- Allowing disadvantaged kids to dream, and then giving them the tools to achieve their dreams if they put in the effort.
The reality of COVID-19 resulted in governments all over the world introducing strict learning measures, and to comply with these measures schools and universities had to adapt, and in turn, students and teachers have had to make drastic changes to the traditional teaching and learning approach, working and learning from home.
How would this affect you if your classroom was under a tree, or if you had 80+ other students in your classroom and shared your desk with 4 other kids? Or you had no internet or access to the new learning platforms that were rapidly developed?
Do you feel things would have improved in your life?
COVID-19 has brought to the foreground the realities of the inequalities that exist in many countries.
One of my favorite quotes in by Seneca – it makes me think about each day
Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life. – Seneca
I believe that each day should be filled with hope, something a good education can give and inspire and facilitate.
English is an enabler, a catalyst for change, the opportunity for millions to live each day on purpose, and really live their lives instead of existing in quiet desperation.
I’ve seen how English Forward has made a difference in millions of your lives. It is a tool for positive change in our world.
So I ask myself, how can we take what we have at English Forward, the largest learn English community on the internet, and turn this into an opportunity for every student that wants to learn English, rich or poor?
Students with access to digital devices and the internet are not in the majority in many countries. Could COVID-19 be a turning point for these countries to confront the inequalities in the schooling system, with a view to putting in place mechanisms that will redress and change the state of poverty and inequalities worldwide?
Is this actually possible with the level of corruption prevalent in these countries?
Which brought me back to my thoughts on a blockchain enabled education platform, where transparency, reward and success are not determined by prejudice or favoritism, race, color or creed, but by a student’s will to work and succeed, even in the most adverse of circumstances.
I know English Forward can be a part of this, of levelling the playing field and helping to slow down the ever widening gap of inequality that exists in education and opportunity for so many.
We have made great progress this year, with the foundation of a new application mapped out, new team members brought onboard and growth in our community. 2021 will be a great year! As KEY would like us to reflect:
Maybe humanity does not deserve to live for all the chaos it has caused. But there is something in humanity that makes it all worthwhile to nature. Maybe it’s the hope humanity has for self-betterment, or the curiosity to find, learn, improve, and grow – to be better the next moment. Or maybe it’s the arising consciousness. I do not know what that is, or if humanity deserves anything more. But I know one thing for sure.
We have more beautiful moments ahead of us. Well, we have moments ahead of us and the onus lies on us to make it beautiful. Irrespective of how many moments are left, let’s make every one of those that comes next better than the one we leave behind.
– Karnika E. Yashwant, Co-founder, English Forward
I am always grateful for the many moderators that give selflessly of their time to help others improve their lives.
This proverb reminds me of our responsibility to each other as humans to create a better world.
If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African proverb.
I am always encouraged and motivated by how a few good people can make such a difference to millions of others. It drives me to be better myself.
To our moderators, educators, teachers and students all over the world, I say “thank you” for your contribution and the effort you have put in this year to make the lives of other people in our community better!
The worldwide lockdown has given us a glimpse of what the future of education may look like. More people may be studying from home, using online educational platforms, replacing existing processes with digital equivalents using remote learning methods.
I love working with positive, active and like-minded people.
Every one of you reading this is an important part of the English Forward team. You are appreciated and I congratulate and thank each one of you for the part you’ve played so far.
Here is to us making a difference in our World.
Happy New Year and all the best for 2021.
Mitch Rankin, CEO and Co-Founder
EnglishForward.com I The Internet’s Largest Learn English Community
Malta. Budapest. Toronto.