Students Say

“Being young is about being invincible; being young is about shaping your life, shaping yourself and believing in yourself, it is about living your dreams. I believe the world will be a better place if we allow young people to determine their own lives and to be able to make choices about that life.”
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Welcome to our Student Voice space! Please take time to have a look at what students across the Commonwealth are saying and make a comment if you’d like. Click and article to read more.


International Human Rights Day Tribute to Anti-Apartheid Icon

On this year’s International Human Rights Day, the Commonwealth Students’ Association and the University of Essex Bar Society join the people of the Republic of South Africa in mourning the death and celebrating the life of the great icon, leader and founding father, Tata Nelson “Madiba” Mandela. Across the world, men and women are raising their voices, their hearts and their hands in remembrance of probably the greatest soul that lived in our life time. Indeed it is true, it is the living who close the eyes of the dead, but it is the dead who open the eyes of the living. Tata Madiba opened our eyes to the possibility that we, as global citizens, can live as brother and sister, regardless of our ethnic, economic, socio-cultural or historically diverse backgrounds. Though he was not the only one, there were countless others had lost their lives along the way, Tata Madiba was the face of the struggle against apartheid – an evil system that flew in the face of all civil, political, social and economic rights- in South Africa. In as much as in his earlier days he had issued a call to arms, Tata Madiba demonstrated that it is possible to make an ideological shift by rising to walk in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi. His transformation was not without a cost: he had painfully borne the personal price for his stance.  He chose the highroad of suffering without bitterness and in his choice, he became the unifying factor of a then torn South Africa. In a country that in our lifetime had seen the worst racial prejudice, he led the greatest racial healing. He wanted everyone to be free, enfranchised and empowered. He became […]
By |December 10th, 2013|Students Say|0 Comments

Investment in Education is vital to Youth Development- But students deserve a seat at the table!

17th November marks the International Students Day. As we commemorate this day, the Commonwealth Students Association calls for deeper investment in education and for student voices to be taken seriously by political leaders and policy formulators. 60% of the Commonwealth’s population is under the age of 30; and a significant number of those young people are students.  Students are major stakeholders in not only the education sector but also all aspects of the state that affect their future, and for far too long they have not been meaningfully engaged in the development and implementation of policies that affect them. This is contrary to the article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which makes provision for young people to be included in decision making processes.  It is time for change. The recent Youth Development Report released by the Commonwealth has shown massive disparity in youth chances across Commonwealth countries. As mentioned in the report, “the YDI is a useful tool for us to compare our government’s investments in youth with outcomes attained. Students organizing internationally gives us opportunity to highlight educational disparity. Ironically, more youth are losing out too in these countries – as they have more young people! Our message today on students’ day is clear; surely those countries with more youth should have more investment in education. But the opposite seems to be the case. But critical still is education, as Maxwell Dlamini says, President of the University of Swaziland and recently arrested without charge for engaging in pro-democracy protests; “It is a duty and responsibility of each and every government to make sure that […]
By |November 19th, 2013|Students Say|0 Comments

Status of education in the developing Commonwealth countries of Asia

Education is a passport to human development, helps abolish social evils such as poverty, promotes sustainable development and helps global development. But unequal access to schooling, gender parity, lack of quality threatens the universal goal of education for all from becoming a reality. Here’s a brief on the status of education and efforts taken by the governments in the developing Commonwealth countries in Asia. Let’s have a glimpse at the literacy rates of the four developed countries: Singapore has a literacy rate of 96.1 per cent, for Malaysia it’s 95 per cent, in Maldives it is 98.82% while in Brunei it is more than 90%. This is because central governments in these countries spend a lot not only access to education, but also on quality of education, skills-based training and ICT. In contrast with these, the four developing nations present a sorry figure. This is largely due to lack of sufficient funds allocated by their governments for education. A quick glance through the statistics for the developing countries will provide a gist of the whole situation. According to official figures, India currently spends 4.1 per cent of its GDP on education, Sri Lanka spends 5.0 per cent, Bangladesh spends 2.4 per cent and Pakistan spends a meager 1.4 per cent. Also, while these are all official figures submitted by the individual governments, an insight into each of these countries would again tell us another story. For example, last year, the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) in Sri Lanka had organized a nationwide campaign asking the government to prioritize education and raise the budgetary allocation for education to 6%. According to FUTA, the government spent only around 1.9% of their GDP on education (as opposed to the official […]

education india

Reservation in Education in India: The Stark Reality

A student aspiring to get into a prestigious Indian B-school scored ninety two percentile. You may think that is a very good score. But, the sad truth is, it isn’t good enough. This is because the cut-off for that student was ninety five percentile, simply because he belonged to the general category of students. Had he belonged to a reserved category, he would have had no issues getting into the institute of his choice, since the cutoff for the reserved category was a mere seventy percentile! In India, the government had introduced the concept of reservation sixty years back to ensure that there would be equal progress of all sections of the society. This is because, back then, discrimination due to caste was rampant in the society. But the situation today, sixty years later, is completely different. Today, no one will ask you what caste you belong to, unless you are applying for a degree in an educational institution. Because, even though caste-based discrimination has been significantly reduced from the society, the concept of reservation still prevails. According to current statistics, the reserved category of students is entitled to more than 20% of the seats available in government institutions. Some of the perks of being a student from the reserved category are significantly lower cutoffs, free tuition, cheaper exam fees, more travel allowance, etc. to name a few. But here comes the catch. Even after lowering the admission standards for the students from the reserved category, a significant number of these seats remain vacant every year. Due to all of these factors, the students belonging to general category often have to resort to education from private institutions or to study abroad. But this is an option only […]

Canada

Canadian Commonwealth Scholarships

Scholarships are vital for any student seeking to pursue academic studies, especially in a case where tuition fees are high and where the prospective student has no other way of accessing this valuable resource. Although no one knows exactly when the awarding of academic scholarships started, we do know that they have been awarded for centuries to many individuals and groups. Most scholarships are awarded based on the following classifications; need-based, merit-based, institution-based, student-specific, career-specific and athletic-based. Some of the most popular international scholarships are; the World Bank Scholarships, the Commonwealth Scholarships, Chevening Scholarships, Organisation of American States Scholarships and various United Nations Scholarships to name a few. Scholarships continue to be seen as very important, so much so that, at a recent UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education it was indicated that “at no time in history has it been more important to invest in higher education as a major force in building an inclusive and diverse knowledge society and to advance research, innovation and creativity.” Some ways in which several governments are investing in higher education are by providing scholarships and by subsidizing the tuition costs. A recent report published by the government of the United Kingdom indicated that “The British government is maintaining its current level of funding and is pleased that the Department for International Development (DFID) has agreed to provide a total of £ 87 million for Commonwealth Scholarships over the four year period from 2011/2012 to 2014/2015. The Chevening Scholarships Programme is still administered by the British government and will fund over 700 postgraduate students each year from around the world…The Government of Britain firmly believes that Commonwealth Scholarships are a cost effective way of widening opportunities for young […]

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“Is the CSA important in The Caribbean?”

The Commonwealth Caribbean region is vast and stretches from Canada in North American to Guyana in South America. This region is composed of thirteen (13) independent territories of the 54 Commonwealth Counties that form the inter-governmental organisation called the Commonwealth of Nations. The population of this region is approximately 40 million and is spread between Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago. There are also six (6) British Overseas Territories (British Dependencies) which are in the Caribbean region however these territories are not recognized as Commonwealth countries. These countries are Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands with a combined population of approximately 200,000. Although the Overseas Territories are British, they have a Caribbean curriculum and operate under the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) framework with the one (1) exception of Bermuda. In the Caribbean region there are National Youth Councils/Associations in the following territories; Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. All of these national youth representative bodies form the Regional Youth Body which is currently called the Regional youth Caucus but as of September 2013 it will be called the Caribbean Youth Council. This body represents youth issues, youth views and youth concerns whilst advocating and lobbying on their behalf. However, there are only two (2) student representative bodies in the Caribbean region namely the Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students (JUTS) and the National Secondary Students’ Council (NSSC)-both of which are found in Jamaica. There is no regional student representative body in the Caribbean region, however, […]