This post was written by Chloë Straw, Project Research Assistant.
The Engaging Diasporas in Development Project held its third dialogue, Education for Development, on May 18th, 2011. Ten impassioned storytellers recounted a mosaic of personal anecdotes that served to explore three central questions: (1) what kind of education is needed for development? (2) How do educational projects create opportunities and choices? And (3) what is unique and inspiring about diaspora-led educational strategies for development?
The evening commenced with a warm welcome and introduction to the project from co-directors Shaheen Nanji and Dr. Joanna Ashworth. Invoking the words of the influential Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, Dr. Ashworth spoke of education as a dialogue between people, based on the facts of their lives, which should not be confused or contorted into a banking system that “makes deposits of knowledge into others.” She also stated that, education is “an act of freedom” and that, for the purposes of the evening, ‘development’ should simply be understood as “the process of change, from one state to another.”
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This post was written by Chloë Straw, Project Research Assistant with additional content from Joselyne Niyizigama John, President and Founder of the Dzaleka Project.
What does education mean to you? For Joselyne Niyizigama John, a fourth year Health Sciences student at Simon Fraser University, education means one essential thing: freedom. A native of Burundi in East Central Africa, Joselyne was forced to flee from her home at the same age that most children enter the first grade. She and her family of twelve would spend the next fourteen years in refugee camps, first in Tanzania and then Malawi, while a civil war raged in Burundi.
“When you are in the camps, all you can think about is how you can’t go anywhere”, she explains. Despite working hard to complete her primary and secondary schooling while in the refugee camps, Joselyne grew up knowing that her prospects for further education were limited if she were to remain in the camp.
“Refugees living in the camps have three options”, she says, “they can live in the camp and forget about exploring other parts of the country; they can go back to their country of origin; or they can be sponsored by a community or a country that is willing to commit to making a difference in their lives.”
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