South/South Movement would like to issue a statement in support of the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) refugee education and access programme and in opposition to its unexpected and unjustified closure at Central European University.
As a group dedicated to the decolonisation and opening up of education beyond the walls and peoples of the university, OLIve’s aims, to make education accessible, affordable and achievable for people who are traditionally some of the most marginalised in society, resonate deeply with us.
OLIve, which has assisted in the founding of other refugee education programmes across Europe, is near unique in its aims and approaches. Arising in a time of great need in 2015, OLIve has provided assistance to thousands of people as part of a network of refugee assistance in Central Europe and has seen the graduation of 500+ students from its Weekend and University Preparation programmes. It is a key hub for the refugee community in Hungary and without it both Central European University and the wider community will be far poorer.
To withdraw the programme and terminate the contract of its director without justification and without ensuring a sufficient alternative or replacement is a dereliction of duty to currently enrolled students, future applicants and to the wider academic community. It speaks to a disregard for some of CEU’s founding principles and a lack of concern for how the university may serve not itself, but the wider community. OLIve’s work is deeply valuable and should be promoted and praised, rather than so unceremoniously cast aside.
On a final, personal note, some of our own members had the pleasure of working with the programme as tutors and have seen first-hand its importance and its impact. It is some of the most valuable work we have done, and that the university facilitates. We stand in solidarity with OLIve and would ask the wider academic community to stand with it. #LetOLIveLive