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Master in Social Sciences and Educational Sciences

Study Excursion to OECD and UNESCO, Paris, France

by Adriana Blazkova, student in the Master in Social Sciences and Educational Scienes

It has only been a few weeks since we commenced our Master’s degree programme in Social Sciences and Educational Sciences (MASSES) at the University of Luxembourg. We are very content with our programme, which provides us many resources in terms of books, articles, and data. This is partially due to the new Luxembourg Learning Centre to which we have free access. It is fully equipped with modern technologies, study-group spaces, computers that can be booked and laptops that can be borrowed.

Studying at the University of Luxembourg, especially in the Master in Social Sciences and Educational Sciences, is a great opportunity to develop our knowledge and skills under the supervision of brilliant lecturers who continuously motivate us in our studies and further our learning progress. Our professors are very supportive and encourage us in our personal development and interests within the social and educational scientific spheres. In the MASSES programme, we are a group of students from different academic backgrounds such as sociology and education, among others. This provides us with broad insights into different career pathways, cultural differences, and multiple languages. Personally, I consider the multicultural environment as advantageous to enhance my critical and open-minded thinking.

Let me move on to the significant occasion and introduce you to our study excursion to Paris in October 2018. Since the first day of our programme, we all knew about this trip, therefore we had an opportunity to do our own preparatory research on the OECD and the UNESCO as influential international organisations. This allowed us to prepare for discussions and ask questions raised during our research and preparation phase. Moreover, our professors held a seminar to prepare for the trip, which helped us to ask our questions.

Our two-day trip to Paris began by gathering all our class colleagues and lecturers together in Luxembourg City to depart for Paris. After our arrival, we first visited the OECD. In particular, the OECD’s work on education aims to help disadvantaged individuals and it is focused on knowledge and skills development in order to improve people’s lives and the labour market. Furthermore, it strives to generate prosperity and promotes the awareness of social inclusion. Later on that day, we had a delicious dinner in a typical Parisian brasserie and a great chance to discuss our thoughts after our first day.

The following day, we walked from our hotel located in the city centre to the UNESCO. According to UNESCO, education is a human right. Moreover, they are leading the Global Education 2030 Agenda, which aims to achieve impressive changes within education spheres through emphasis of Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 4 (Quality Education). This experience has allowed us to critically think about and compare both organisations as they have similar goals but different approaches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MASSES students at the OECD (first row, l. to r.; second row): Shika S. Bhattacharya, Marion A.M. Carminati, Deepthi Polouse, Hussein Hejazi, Marcelo Marques, Justin J. W. Powell, Madison C. Robert, Madalina Mezaros, Adriana Blazkova, Jurgen Muci, Hee Young Shin, Sara E. G. Gomes, Bosmat Kochavi, Dana Sagadiyeva, Kristijonas A. Brazas, Andrea Moro

 

 

 

 

 

 

MASSES students at UNESCO (first row, l. to r.; second row): Marion A. M. Carminati, Dana Sagadiyeva, Shika S. Bhattacharya, Deepthi Polouse, Madison C. Robert, Hee Young Shin, Adriana Blazkova, Jurgen Muci, Madalina Mezaros, Sara E. G. Gomes, Justin J. W. Powell, Kristijonas A. Brazas, Bosmat Kochavi, Marcelo Marques, Hussein Hejazi, Andrea Moro

Personal experiences of MASSES students

“It was a great opportunity to visit UNESCO and OECD who play a major role in the field of educational development. The visit gave us an overview and understanding on the different initiatives, policies and programs undertaken by these organizations for the growth of education and making education accessible.’’ (Deepthi Poulose)

“It was very interesting to see the two organisations and how they are managing their agendas and projects, what their priorities are, and how they are facing difficulties. I believe that both organisations do very challenging work, having to think ahead and predict trends in different societies.” (Madalina Mezaros)

“The visits at the OECD and the UNESCO showed me two different interpretations and methods of resolving educational issues. I really felt privileged to get exclusive insights in two of the main organizations responsible for both the global governance and the practices of education in the field. During the numerous presentations, I felt a particularly strong interest in the domain of the Teacher Task Force. As a teacher myself, the increased need to recruit and train motivated teachers in combination with the emergence of new technologies in the 21st century lie at the root of my interests. The specific need for 69 million new teachers around the world until the year 2030 underlines the urgency of the actual problem, but also confirms the presence of a sustainable policy, which is led by the UNESCO, committed to resolve the issue on a long-term basis.” (Andrea Moro)

“After having received insights on how two large international organizations, OECD and UNESCO, handle their own approaches to education, the types of conclusions that can be drawn differ as much as the organisations themselves. From the OECD perspective, we are left with a more systematic approach – countries produce various results regarding testing and more standardised forms of education, such as the PISA tests, and create policies and draw conclusions from the trends seen in the data. Therefore, it seems that a part of comparative education is more focused on data analysis and finding practical suggestions to improve that data, which, in turn, informs policies.

A more humanitarian approach was felt from the experience at UNESCO as the concerns there were much more focused on confronting issues regarding the availability of education to the general population as well as people’s rights to education. This discussion did not specifically deal with a specific group of member states, as at the OECD, but was more concerned with the general public globally, and trying to enable as many states as possible to be equally involved in the discussions. Comparative education also has a more humanitarian approach, in which the concern is often to enable equal opportunities for as many parties involved as possible.” (Kris Brazas)