Aaron Friedland is the founder and executive director of The Walking School Bus, an organization that empowers children with access to education, nutrition, and curriculum across the world. Its website reads:
“Every day, over half a million students in Uganda alone walk over 5 kilometres to attain an education. These students walk through some of the most unforgiving terrains in pursuit of higher education. What is most alarming is that once these students have journeyed to school, they are often too hungry or tired to thrive in the environment they have fought so hard to access. We aim to support these scholars who recognize the importance of higher education.”
The Walking School Bus’ mission is to empower students in lower income countries to access education, thereby breaking down cultural and faith based barriers, creating academic partnerships between both local and international schools and their respective communities, while helping provide sustainable and adequate nutrition for its partnered beneficiaries. TWSB prides itself on its commitment to academic research which scientifically tests its curriculum and teaching procedures before their implementation. Keeping in mind its core principles, it currently sponsors 16 scholars to attend school on 5 year scholarships and has partnered with 3 schools in Uganda, all of which are inter-faith.
Having completed his schooling from Canada, Aaron studied Economics and International Development and then went on to attain a postgraduate degree in Economics. A McGill scholar, he worked as an economic analyst at UN Watch, which eventually laid the foundation for TWSB. His work there made him realise the several barriers to education children in developing countries face, including poverty, distance to school and lack of nutrition. He learnt a great deal through his exposure to the general environment, not to mention worrying lack of educational awareness in countries like Uganda, South Africa, and India. He recognized that students in these places who struggled academically would often fall into the poverty trap. Prevention of this unacknowledged tragedy was the main idea behind founding TWSB.
Aaron currently works as an economics lecturer. He brings enthusiasm and a research-based approach to his teaching. He is passionate about motivating his students through experiential learning, a model that he has applied in the classroom as well as at TWSB. Aaron has also given talks on various forums in India like TEDxDTU and TEDxIITDMJabalpur, and has also appeared on Shaw TV in Canada, his native country.