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Book Review: Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes

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Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World, by Susan Hughes, is a wonderful book about schooling around the globe. Article 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has the right to an education. Environmental problems like climate change, storms, floods, natural disasters and energy shortages make the job of educating the poor a difficult one in many areas of the world. Sustainability is a way of building that satisfies the needs of people now while leaving enough resources for people in future years.

Through personal interviews and visits to dozens of countries, Hughes will introduce the reader to the teachers and students of some amazing schools. At the Evenk Nomadic School in Siberia, for example, Russia teaches about the Evenk language, culture, traditions, the local plant/animal life and the environment. Nomadic peoples live in many countries throughout the world. Many are indigenous peoples who continue to live traditional lifestyles passed down throughout the centuries. Many of the teachers are of Evenk descent. They travel by sledge from camp to camp bringing the school along with them. School is held inside tents where there are computers powered by generators.

In Bangladesh, a child’s education is limited by the heavy monsoon rains and extensive flooding. The vagaries of the climate make floods even greater due to the melting glaciers in the Himalaya Mountains. The runoff makes rivers swell. As a result, there is extensive damage to farms, schools and other structures.

To get around these limitations, as Off to Class chronicles, Mohammed Rezwan raised enough money to open a boat school. Boat school is a combination school bus and boat school. Each day, the boats stop at different villages along the shore to pick up students in the same grade. For three hours, students study math, reading, writing, English, Bengali, the environment and conservation. Each boat has enough electricity to run up to three or four computers, a printer, DVD player and a CD. Solar panels on the roofs supply ample electricity. The boats are connected to the internet by a wireless technology. Boats also stock small private libraries of books for the students.

For thousands of years, there has been a caste system in Nepal. The highest caste groups control most of the resources leaving little for the lowest caste groups like the Dalits or the untouchables. In 2007, the Nepalese government created a new constitution promising a free education to every child. The promise has been hard to fulfill and there are still many children without a school. After several years, a group called the Shree Santi School Project started construction of a school in 2008. In several months, the school opened its doors with 5 classrooms and a library. At first, only kindergarten and the first grade were offered. Now, a second grade has been added.

Overall, Susan Hughes has done an amazing job of conveying the extreme hurdles children face throughout many parts of the world. The presentation takes the reader through communities in Canada, the USA, Haiti, Honduras, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Russia, Nepal , India, Cambodia, China and New Caledonia, to mention just a few of the places. Educators have accomplished herculean tasks in order to educate the poor in many areas under extreme weather conditions and continuing natural disasters. New technologies like solar energy have helped in accomplishing this difficult task.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.