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Microcredit for Sustainable Development

From "Exploring Global Issues"

Secondary

Description

Students are made aware of microcredit loan applications in developing countries as a solution to poverty. Then, as part of a simulated loan application process, students are asked to prepare sustainable business plans, individually or in small groups. They are required to appear with their business plans in front of 3 peer judges who assume roles as i) microcredit funder  ii) community activist and iii) environmentalist. The three judges decide the merit of each business plan and whether to approve them.

Students are asked to present business plans and posters about their country's specific proposal to the above judges. Microcredit funders are concerned that money is well spent and with the success and longevity of the project. The community activist judge will ensure that the microenterprise advances culture and democracy without sacrificing quality of life. The environmentalist judge's focus is with the environmental consequences of the microenterprise as well as its ecological sustainability. All three peer judges evaluate the business proposals and underlying research in terms of relevancy to the developing country's economic challenges and whether they offer positive structural or social change.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • The resource teaches business plan writing and research in an international development context 

Strengths

  • The resource fosters student engagement in the issues of poverty reduction and sustainable development through interesting open-ended research opportunities and hands-on business plan writing
  • The learning activities of this package consistently help students build knowledge and insight into sustainable poverty reduction, especially through case studies that are constructed by the students
  • The lesson plan procedures, tools and substance are clearly provided for the teacher. They should be easy to apply

Weaknesses

  • The learning activities are biased toward a technocratic microcredit loans approval process
  • Teachers would benefit from more support from a help line
  • There are no assessment tools
  • The internet link to service learning (action) projects could not be found. 

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Economics (1)

    • Poverty Reduction
  • Human Rights (1)

    • Poverty

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory
  • The resource mostly offers a technocratic approach
  • The perspective of impoverished people and the experience of actual judges who participate in the business loan process is missing
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Poor/Not considered

Poor

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
  • Asks pertinent questions concerning how you would feel about the impoverished people requesting business loans
  • The resource does not foster empathy and respect toward diverse groups
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Satisfactory
  • The resource considers ecology but does not go further to encourage a personal affinity with non-humans and the Earth
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Poor/Not considered

Poor

  • There are no learning activities with a local focus that make it relevant to the lives of the learners
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory
  • There are no self-assessment mechanisms
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.