U.N. pairs schools to further education

The project has established partnerships in 118 member nations.

Cati Vanden Breul

The United Nations is pairing up colleges and universities in developed and developing countries as part of a project to promote worldwide access to education.

The program, dubbed UNITWIN, is part of UNESCO and was created in 1992. The organization is looking to foster four new partnership programs in the areas of education, HIV/AIDS prevention, literacy and the use of technology in education.

Participation in such a program would probably be a good opportunity for the University, said Sarah Mollet, president of Students for Camp Heartland, a student group that promotes AIDS education and works to raise money for children affected by HIV/AIDS.

Intercultural awareness and understanding are two things to be aware of for a project like this, Mollet said.

“AIDS education is looked at differently in every culture. In order to really tackle the issue, you need to take into account the specific cultures you are working with,” she said.

“Working with another university in another country would be great for that.”

Lindsey Lesher, a public health sophomore and Student International Health Committee officer, said sharing knowledge among universities would help improve education for all parties.

“The knowledge we would gain from them would be beneficial as well,” Lesher said. “It sounds like a very innovative approach and definitely a good use of resources.”

But for a partnership program to be successful, it must be a true partnership between nations, said Kathryn Sikkink, a University political science professor.

“They need to be genuine in structure, so that decisions are made by all institutions and the needs of both institutions are met,” Sikkink said.

Collaborative programs between developed and developing nations sometimes end up one-sided, she said.

“Sometimes, you see programs where a northern country wants to collaborate, but they don’t involve the partner organization as a genuine partner to help plan out a joint enterprise,” she said.

But projects that pair institutions in the United States or Europe with universities in developing countries can be very beneficial and positive, she said.

The project currently has established partnerships in 118 member nations, according to its Web site.