Access to Education

April 1, 2011

A week-long series of events was held at CEU from Monday, March 21 – Friday, March 25 as part of Access to Education Week; a collaborative project, between the Human RightS Initiative (HRSI) and students.

The week-long awareness-raising campaign was the initiative of a dedicated group of students currently pursuing Masters and Doctoral degrees at the university. The students volunteered their time to create, plan and implement a series of events and activities to share challenges facing individuals and groups in accessing quality education, as well as highlight best practices and successes.

Nicole Peloquin, an MA candidate in the Department of Sociology at CEU, was one of the core organizers of the week’s events. Peloquin mentioned that she decided to get involved because of her belief that education is an important issue to a person’s life, and therefore she was eager to raise awareness about access to education. Nicole stated that “CEU has given us a chance to continue our education, so I thought it would be important to have an event at the university which highlights the fact that this is still an issue for others.”

The students spent a long time planning the events, meeting several times a week to compile a variety of opportunities for members of the CEU committee to get involved. Peloquin mentioned that the preparatory team “wanted to create a global and diverse focus for the week to show that education is not something that is ‘one-size-fits-all.’  There are many different forms of education and many different kinds of barriers.”

The events were held at CEU’s main campus and were attended by members of the CEU community including students, faculty and staff, as well as  activists and members of the general public. The week was launched by an awareness-raising information table, where members of the preparatory team discussed the week’s events with those interested. Short TED Talks related to access to education were screened and a photo exhibition was displayed in the main CEU entrance hall, as well. Waiting for Superman, a documentary focusing on the education system in the US was screened on Monday evening,  followed by a discussion about public schools and charter schools in the US context.

On Wednesday evening, Vera Messing, one of the lead researchers on the EDUMIGROM research project, held a public lecture, followed by an informal discussion with students at CEU. EDUMIGROM is a three-year project in nine European Union member states, focusing on education in communities with second-generation migrations and Roma. The project is led by the Center for Policy Studies at CEU.

Students had the chance to talk with a teacher in rural Tanzania through Skype on Thursday. Additionally, a current CEU MA student shared his experiences about studying and teaching in Ghana. During part of his childhood, Majeed Mohammed attended school in a rural village in Ghana. After completing university he then returned back to the village to teach before eventually continuing his education. Majeed spoke about the challenges faced by students seeking education in Ghana, as well as the struggles teachers encounter on a daily basis.

The week-long campaign concluded on Friday with a public lecture by Liviu Matei, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at CEU/Professor, Department of Public Policy, CEU. Professor Matei has extensive experience in higher education policy, and spoke about educational policy in Central and Eastern Europe.

In a community with students from over 130 countries, perhaps the single most unifying thread in CEU’s student body is each student’s opportunity to access high-quality education while studying at the University. Peloquin wanted to emphasize this opportunity given to CEU students by focusing on meaningful,  quality education. She mentioned, “Something that I thought was important to highlight during the week was the fact that not only is education important, but it should be a meaningful education.”

Thanks to the dedication and efforts of the student preparatory team, as well as the enthusiastic participation of students and esteemed staff and faculty members at CEU, Access to Education Week was an overwhelming success.