SYL emphasizes the role of education also in the global South – experiences from SYL’s development cooperation

I joined SYL’s Development Cooperation Advisory Board, KENKKU, last summer because I wanted to learn more about the world of development cooperation and international advocacy. SYL’s projects seemed intriguing and meaningful, as the accessibility of education is a fundamental pillar for a more equal future. Education provides the ability to actively participate in society, pursue one’s dreams, and better understand the world. Promoting accessibility and supporting disabled students in Zambian and Ethiopian higher education institutions is a crucial step toward dismantling structural inequality.

Collaborating with Ethiopian universities and accessibility organizations has broadened my worldview. It has taught me about the differences between the Finnish and Ethiopian civil societies. While following the progress of the projects, I have learned about the operational models of Ethiopian universities and the various challenges that accessibility work faces in Ethiopia. It has been fascinating to understand the different paths disabled students have taken to higher education and how changing economic situations or negative attitudes can affect their opportunities to study.

In addition to going through budgets and reports, being a member of KENKKU taken me to intriguing places, such as the Finnish parliament. During the visit to the parliament, we learned about its history, and had discussions with a Member of Parliament about current political issues, ranging from development cooperation to internationality and the position of students.

Although the work in KENKKU itself is interesting and rewarding, what makes it a hundred times more enjoyable is the relaxed atmosphere among its members. Meetings and afterworks feel like a break from the routine. Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to meet amazing new people, make friends, and experience amusing escapades together. The best memories from KENKKU are from our shared evenings and trips. Making friends with students from different parts of Finland is also wonderful because it allows me to explore various cities’ student cultures and traditional events.

So, if you’re still considering sending in your application, I can give you a straightforward piece of advice: apply! KENKKU is full of memorable experiences, opportunities for personal development, and, above all, meaningful work for global equality. I can only recommend it!

Aino Rönkä

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