Ashoka's Changemaker Schools Featured in the Irish Times

President of Dublin City University (DCU) Brian MacCraith joined educators, social entrepreneurs and leaders from across sectors on Friday October 17th to launch Ireland’s 'Changemaker Schools' network, a global movement of schools dedicated to teaching new skills for the 21st century, such as empathy, creativity, teamwork and leadership. Five Irish primary schools from Dublin, Cork, Kerry and Armagh became the first on the island of Ireland to join 100 other schools across the US, Europe and Africa to be recognised for their wide variety of innovative approaches - from using yoga to improve behaviour to letting children manage school farms, among many other initiatives.

Established by Ashoka, Changemaker Schools is designed to connect innovative schools around the world and support them in inspiring other schools to empower students to be changemakers. The initiative is the extension of a longstanding Ashoka programme at third level called Changemaker Campuses. This network of universities, dedicated to catalysing social innovation in higher education, includes Brown, Cornell and Duke University in the US where it originated. DCU became the first European university to join the group in 2013, and President MacCraith welcomed the move to bring primary schools into the network:

"The world is changing rapidly, and as a Changemaker Campus we believe that the next generations will need the adaptable skills and self-belief to take advantage of new opportunities to solve some of the major problems society will face. The Changemaker Schools network including primary, and soon secondary, level gives us a unique opportunity to work across all levels of education with a common goal in mind."

Schools within the network are supported to connect with innovative social entrepreneurs, collaborate with one another, and create initiatives to share best practices with other schools. Changemaker Schools has been inspired by Ashoka’s history of identifying and investing in over 3,000 social entrepreneurs, Ashoka Fellows, since 1981. These social entrepreneurs have devised new solutions to some of the world’s biggest social, economic and environmental challenges, with many giving rise to major global trends and movements.

Ashoka Fellows working with young people in Ireland include James Whelton, Founder of CoderDojo, and Canadian Mary Gordon, Founder of Roots of Empathy, which is managed locally by Barnardos.

Director of Ashoka Ireland, Serena Mizzoni, noted:

"From working with social entrepreneurs in education, we have seen that many organisations and schools are empowering young people to be changemakers, through inspired teaching and by giving children the opportunity to lead from an early age. By uniting a network of these kinds of schools, our aim is to showcase the best practice of ‘changemaker education’, and to inspire a new way of thinking on how young people grow up."


Following the launch, the Irish Times published two pieces on Ashoka's Changemaker Schools in Ireland - read them here:

'Empathy, creativity and teamwork - the future of Irish education?' Irish Times, Saturday 18th October online edition

'Creating "change makers" in the Irish school system' Irish Times, Tuesday 11th November print & online editions.