CIDA is bringing students from around the world together

February 6, 2012

International School Twinning Initiative © ACDI-CIDAAt Summit Alternative School in Ottawa, Minister Oda participates in a real-time exchange with students from Antigua Grammar School in Antigua, officially launching CIDA's International School Twinning Initiative.

Today, the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, launched an exciting new, innovative program that will bring Canadian students the opportunity to learn together and learn about their peers living in developing countries in real time. This initiative will provide a valuable cultural and educational exchange. TheInternational School Twinning Initiative (ISTI) pairs a school in Canada with a school in a developing country.

"Giving children the chance to learn together, learn about each other, and learn from each other is an exciting way to engage young Canadians in international development. Today, we are all global citizens, and the School Twinning Initiative will help the next generation become active global citizens as they grow," said Minister Oda. "The participant schools and their teachers are to be commended for opening this new opportunity to their students. I look forward to reports from both the students and their teachers on how this innovative program has enriched their learning and understanding of how others live."

The launch took place in a Grade 7 classroom at the Summit Alternative School, in Ottawa, connecting live with their twinned school, the Antigua Grammar School, in Antigua. These two schools are one of seven twinned pairs in which a school in a developing country works with a Canadian school as part of the International School Twinning Initiative pilot.

"The International Twinning Initiative provides a great deal of excitement amongst both staff and students as we consider the global learning opportunities available to us. Our partnership with Antigua will help develop our students into global citizens, with a greater awareness of the similarities and differences they share with children their age around the world," said David Farley, Teacher at Summit Alternative School. "We hope that our students develop meaningful connections and relationships with our twinned school as they interact with one another. We hope that this experience will impact our students for the rest of their lives."

CIDA's two-year ISTI pilot ($1.09 million over two years) will provide an enriched interactive learning environment in real time, engaging teachers and students aged 11 to 14 in Canada and in developing countries, using web-based technologies.

The initiative is part of CIDA's Global Citizens Program, which aims to engage and mobilize Canadians to participate in international development.

For more information, media should contact:

Justin Broekema
Press Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238
Email: justin.broekema@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534
Email: media@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Backgrounder

Canadian students learning together with students in developing countries

In recognition of the role that Canadian students can play in helping their peers in developing countries and of the importance of young people talking to each other and learning about and with each other, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is launching a new, innovative program-the International School Twinning Initiative (ISTI) for students in their classrooms.

This program is part of CIDA's Global Citizens Program announced by the Minister of International Cooperation on July 22, 2010.

A call for proposals for ISTI has resulted in seven Canadian schools twinned with seven schools in a developing country as part of the pilot. The schools are:

  • Centre d'apprentissage du Haut-Madawaska in New Brunswick twinned with Coura School in Mali
  • École Notre-Dame des Monts in Alberta twinned with Kita A in Mali
  • Riverside Elementary School in Manitoba twinned with St. Elizabeth Technical High in Jamaica
  • Rossburn Elementary School in Manitoba twinned with Eltham High in Jamaica
  • Samuel W. Shaw Elementary School in Alberta twinned with Excelsior High in Jamaica
  • St. James Elementary School in Alberta twinned with Presentation Brothers College in Grenada
  • Summit Alternative School in Ontario twinned with Antigua Grammar School in Antigua

With ISTI, a Canadian classroom (students aged 11 to 14) is twinned with a classroom in a developing country. Together, they participate in real-time activities via videoconferencing.

In their applications, schools determined their areas of interest for twinning activities, and then those schools selected were twinned based on common language and interests and the age of students.

During the summer of 2011, teachers from Canada and the developing countries participated in orientation and planning sessions in order for twinned schools to plan project-related activities for the coming school year. A number of creative and interactive activities were developed and are being or will be introduced to students throughout the 2011-2012 school year. These activities allow students to share information and experiences on a number of topics relating to their cultural and social realities (both their differences and similarities).

ISTI is a two-year pilot program aiming to engage Canadian and developing country teachers and students in a shared learning experience. ISTI offers an enriched interactive learning environment to benefit both Canadian and developing country classrooms, providing students and teachers with:

  • improved quality of education in the targeted subject matter
  • greater insight into international development
  • greater appreciation of their role as global citizens
  • enhanced ability to communicate international development issues

CIDA will provide up to a maximum of $30,000 for each Canadian school selected, for direct and overhead costs incurred by the school. CIDA will manage costs incurred by developing country schools.

During the summer of 2012, teachers from Canada and developing countries will come together to share lessons learned from the first year of the initiative and to plan activities for the second year.