AMSTERDAM – Widening of access to education was the main topic of the second major SIS-Catalyst project meeting on 17 and 18 June in Amsterdam. In particular, the inclusion of children from social disadvantaged families was debated during the meeting. The European Students’ Union (ESU) participates in this project as it thinks that no group in society should be left out of education.
The SIS-Catalyst project seeks to identify how children can be change agents and how they can be catalysts in the longer term solutions to the big future challenges that society is faced with. The project tries to translate this objective to the global, European, national, regional and local arena.
According to a UNESCO report from 2009 across Europe there are streets where 8 out of 10 young people go to university but there are also neighbourhoods where it is less than 8 of 100. Historical, social, economic, cultural and educational factors all play significant and defining roles in the life chances of communities with low progression to higher education.
These factors are also the reasons why an individual is more likely or least likely to get into higher education. The report reads: "Global inequalities in education between high- and low-income countries often mask major disparities within countries. National inequalities based on income, gender, ethnicity, location and other factors can block a child's educational attainment."
Addressing the roots
As diversity, equity and inclusion have always been core values in ESU’s activities, this project not only provides a platform for sharing opinion of students but also and most importantly engages in the work on social dimension from the very beginning and addresses the very roots of the issue.
ESU holds the opinion that for higher education to be democratic, it is not enough to have democratic (legal) structures in place. The problems with participation in higher education and the existing major gaps between societal groups, is the reflection of much deeper issues within society and can be found back at all levels of education. With participating in the SIS-Catalyst project, ESU hopes to find sustainable solutions for this problematic situation. The project runs for four years (2011-2015) and is funded with money from the European Commission Framework 7 for Research and Innovation. More information on the project can be found here: http://www.siscatalyst.eu.