Seminar Access to Education

A visit from Tiril and Johanne as they explain their journeys through Bolivia and Nicaragua and the difficulties on education that the indigenous and Afro-descendants face there. Read more about it here! DSC04067

This Seminar I must say was a great success, starting with the nice atmosphere during the dinner and off course ending with an interactive lecture. From about five o’clock the red cross house started to get filled, and people just kept coming! (After a while people where even eating on the floor). After a very nice meal, filled with fruits and vegetables (we got our good portion of that for the day for sure) the room was transformed in order to make it possible to give the seminar.

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Enjoying a good meal!

When we were ready to start I think there must have been about 50 to 60 people in the house ready to listen (which is really a big number for any event Saih Ås has had!). Tiril and Johanne introduced the topic and then Tiril went on to talk about their trip in Bolivia followed by Johanne who then talked about Nicaragua. While travelling Tiril and Johanne where thinking about what could be their focus of their presentations for later, there were so many interesting things to talk about, they wondered what was something that connected Nicaragua and Bolivia. They talked to many people while being there and a lot of the youth often mentioned the difficulties in education, so they used this as a theme. They decided to focus on the access to education of indigenous people and Afro-descendants in local societies, especially seen as this is often a big problem for them.

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Tiril talking about the situation in Norway

Both Tiril and Johanne told very interesting stories about their journeys through Bolivia and Nicaragua, and they touched on very important themes, including what the main challenges are for the indigenous and afro-descendants. They found that mainly the language, infrastructure and alcoholism were big problems. Many  didn’t have access to education just because it wasn’t available or it was too far away, but the case also presented itself that the young people saw no use in their education. They often thought their education was not a good investment and so turned to alcohol. That they have no access to education because of language and infrastructure is off course not good but that they don’t see anything good in it I believe is worse. This should become a real focus to show the youth that by investing in their education they invest in their future and that is not worthless.

Another big challenge was the fact that most indigenous and afro-descendants live in poverty.  Something very shocking that was mentioned during the seminar is the fact that the indigenous are 5% of the world’s population however they comprise 15% of the world’s poor. This is off course not how it should be. In both Nicaragua en Bolivia education was free but still the youth had to be able to live; they had to pay for food, rent and more and so they found it hard to do everything and thus sometimes had to leave their education behind. Which should actually never be the case!

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Interacting with the audience

Besides the challenges Tiril and Johanne also talked about why it is important to focus on these groups. They are often vulnerable groups (even when they are a majority), they are often the poorest and most marginalized, and they were often seen as one homogenous group which is completely not the case. Things have to change, and a way to do this is through education! Organisations can help by motivate the youth by telling them to take their chance and change their own future. They should empower them and show them that they are important!

As you can see we learned a lot from the seminar and these where just some points in a nut shell. Overall it was a very interesting seminar and it was also a very interactive one, which we were very pleased with. It was, I would just like to repeat, a success! Lastly I would like to end with some words of wisdom (I thought at least) from Tiril and Johanne:

“Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone, that’s how you learn”

So don’t forget to do what you might be afraid of, because in the end you might learn a lot from it!

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