Our intern Yunah wishes to kickstart adult education

When school starts, new interns also start their tasks at the Estonian Human Rights Centre. This autumn, we welcomed Yunah to our team. Yunah comes from South Korea and studies in a master program of adult education for social change at Tallinn University. Read about her journey below.

First things first – how did you end up studying adult education for social change in Estonia?

I did my BA in English education at Cheongju National University of Education in South Korea and following that worked as an elementary school teacher for 3 years. Since I shared new information about education with my colleagues, I felt the digital divide between the small province and metropolitan cities around Seoul.

Also, I was leading our local TED event team at the time. Organising TEDxCheongju contributed to different ways of people sharing information. It encouraged people in a small province to think about the universal aim and future of education.

During this and other events focusing on education, it was interesting for me to see how local stakeholders such as teachers, parents, and policy makers brought out the latent possibilities of education advancements. Through all these experiences, I realised that it is time to make a push for more learning opportunities for adults.

Tell us a bit more about this master program.

It is a program that is shared by three different universities in Glasgow, Malta and Tallinn. During the first semester in Glasgow, we focused on international issues in education. At first, I found it difficult to see a connection between this and my previous education and experience, it seemed too theoretical. But then in Malta, we explored social difference in adult education and now in Tallinn, we are studying more about social competences and the theories and practice of change. Over three different semesters, I was able to combine it all together in my head.

And where will you be for the last semester?

The students can choose their location depending on the topic and the dissertation so that they wish to write their thesis on. Right now, I am between Glasgow and Tallinn.

And you also had to gather various practical experiences every semester?

Yes, in this sense the program is really practical. In Glasgow, I had the opportunity to work at a community centre who tried to advance women’s rights. In Malta, we were doing a radio show, which among other topics talked about adult education. And now in Tallinn I am gaining insight of the work of the Estonian Human Rights Centre.

As an education specialist, how would you compare the field of education in Korea and in Europe?

Korean education system is highly valued, many specialists come for study visits to learn how we do it. But the situation of adult education is different: it is not very common and developed as a field yet.

I am proud of myself to study in Europe, where adult education if more advanced. It all started as a concern for lifelong learning which involves a humanitarian perspective. Now I hope to find a proactive solution for advancing the policies and practices of lifelong learning in Korea.

How are human rights topics included in education in South-Korea?

The human rights issues are taught generally in the school education, oftentimes they are discussed from the viewpoint of ethics and morale. As global issues do not affect people directly, they are not really part of the discussion in the society.

So, human rights topics have not found their way into public discussions?

I hope that Korean society will become more empathic on global issues. It seems to me that people are feeling safe and secure at the moment, and they do not wish to pay attention to issues such as the refugee situation.

Of course, world-wide topics like the #metoo movement or LGBT issues have been echoing in our society, but the attitude towards them has been rather conservative. Therefore, I find it a very interesting topic: how to talk about these issues, especially in the context of adult education.