With experience in education from four different countries, Simon Ongom said he has a unique perspective to bring to the Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees table.
Ongom grew up in Africa, attended university in Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Canada, and is now working on his MBA. He also has three children attending schools in RVS.
“I have seen education from different perspectives, using different lenses in different societies, in different communities, and I have seen what makes education and what makes it fail,” he said. “I believe that experience would add value to the education system and the Rocky View School board.”
Through all of that, he said what he has noticed is a lack of accountability at the local level.
“I have seen a lot of back and forth and finger-pointing,” he said. “Someone needs to rise up and provide leadership, bring everybody to the table, listen to one another, try to provide solutions locally and see broader collaboration with whoever is interested in ensuring that our education system succeeds. I believe I have what it takes to provide that leadership.”
Ongom is running to represent Cochrane as the Ward 6 trustee, and said he wants to be involved in changes he claims are critical to the local education system.
“As a parent, I have seen the failures of decisions that have been made firsthand on me,” he said. “I don’t wish to see another parent go through some of these effects. I can’t sit on the sidelines and think someone else is going to do it. I feel strongly I am the one to do it.”
He said if elected, he will be flexible to the changing educational environment.
“Education is dynamic,” Ongom said. “It is not set in stone.”
It is important for students to graduate with a global perspective, he added.
“I have seen how education produces people to be either local citizens or citizens of the broader community the world is a global village,” he said. “If we have an education that produces local citizens, we are closing the world to our students, our future leaders.
“I always tell people we tomorrow might be having the next Prime Minister coming out of Cochrane or Rocky View for that matter. Do we want this person to be someone who only knows Rocky View as their world, or someone who is able to see the world as a village?”
When it comes to dealing with COVID-19, the school division needs to use a scientific basis and go beyond the Province’s recommendations, according to Ongom.
“The Province comes and Alberta Health comes and they give us guidance,” he said. “It is excellent guidance, but I believe some of this guidance are basic stepping stones. Jurisdictions must apply this guidance in conjunction with what is applicable and what will work for them and what will not work for them.”
The other candidates vying for the Ward 6 seat include incumbent and RVS Board Chair Fiona Gilbert and Peter Fortna.