In developing countries or unstable environments, it is difficult to predict which skills are going to be most valuable in the future. Skateistan is an award-winning international NGO working in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa to empower children through skateboarding and creative education.
Our aim is to create future leaders for a better world. We work by giving our students the maximum flexibility to choose their own path. In some of the areas where we work, rote learning is common and children are often taught the same specific skills that their teachers learned over a generation ago.
Skateboarding combines elements of sport and creative play, which, combined with our inclusive curriculum, teaches children to be adaptable, critical and creative. We believe this is the only way to really prepare them not only for what the future may bring, but for the future they may choose for themselves.
A lot of our students are growing up in challenging contexts. Many are affected by trauma; some have been exposed to violence or have been forced to flee from conflict. Over 80 per cent of them are from low-income backgrounds. We can’t change the external context, but in our creative education programs we try to help them to navigate their own landscape.
Our students learn how they can play a part in changing the future for the better. Students plan out their own imaginary countries, including designing flags, writing anthems and making laws; they learn about the importance of human rights, conflict resolution and education. Burying time capsules in the garden of our Skate School in Mazar-e-Sharif helps children to imagine a future without conflict, while setting up a recycling station in Johannesburg helps children to see their own role in making a difference. We help them to imagine a future which is different from their present.