Access to education and the impact it can make around the world has been an important theme of many J-WEL Week 1 sessions. MIT President L. Rafael Reif spoke in a recent interview about the value of education, recalling his parent’s advice: “If you have an education, even if you have to leave in a hurry, you can still take that with you.”
“The Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) is a major addition on campus that is enabling us to carry out the biggest aspiration we have to educate as many people in the world as possible,” President Reif added in the interview, as he set the tone for the inaugural J-WEL Week.
In this morning’s “MIT Innovation Culture,” a joint Higher Ed and Workplace Learning session, Prof Vladimir Bulovic discussed launching innovations and ideas: “The point is not about making money, it’s about making impact. The ideas our students generate can change the world.”
pK-12’s “Learning for Everyone” session heard from several groups at MIT who work to improve educational opportunities for women and girls, refugees, and underrepresented minorities. MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach Programs (OEOP) spoke about the 3,000 middle and high school students they have worked with, 60 to 70 percent coming from low socio-economic backgrounds. Prof. Azra Aksamija, who leads the MIT Heritage Lab, spoke of her work with refugees in the Al Azraq refugee camp in Jordan: “Refugees should not forget their cultural heritage. We use architectural models to preserve the memory and history of the nation, and implement this in our educational models.” The Refugee Learning Accelerator, led by Philipp Schmidt and Genevieve Barrons at the MIT Media Lab, provides training, mentorship, and funding to teams of engineers and computer scientists in refugee communities in the Middle East. In the first round of the program, the Refugee Learning Accelerator accepted 51 teams with promising prototypes, over 50% of them were from Syria.
As the first J-WEL Week wraps up tomorrow, collaboration between J-WEL members and MIT on how to increase global educational attainment and achievement will be a priority.