This spring the first group of Students At Risk (StAR) students graduated. I am deeply humbled as I am one of them. As the first graduates, we begin new chapters in our lives, some are going back home, some will remain outside their home countries because of various reasons. I strongly believe that my fellow graduates will continue with their activism wherever life may take them to.
Now that we have equipped ourselves with knowledge and skills, we are more than ready to confront the injustices that our societies face. All this would not have been possible without this scholarship. I hope we shall remain committed to a just and equal world. As we choose different paths in life I hope we shall not be complacent and rest in our academic achievements whilst our communities, countries and the world at large faces blatant challenges.
Personally, being admitted into StAR gave me a new lease of life. It found me at my weakest point in my life. I was trying to organize my life after spending close to four years in prison and quickly being forced into exile.
There could never have been any better chance to further my education other that the opportunity offered by StAR. It has afforded me the chance to enlighten people about my country Swaziland and the oppression we are subjected to under the authoritarian rule of King Mswati. I shall continue to advance the struggle for freedom and democracy in Swaziland. Most importantly show solidarity to other struggles unfolding beyond the borders of Swaziland.
I would not have done justice, if I do not thank the pioneers of Students at Risk; SAIH and NSO for a sterling job. The Norwegian government responded well to the call by students by financially supporting this program. These amazing organizations have not only talked about solidarity but have shown it to us and the young people of the world who are oppressed.
The world today is facing a host of challenges; poverty, wars, increasing inequalities, lack of respect for human rights, dwindling public funding of education and attacks on students and academia. In the education sector students are the most vulnerable stakeholders especially in undemocratic regimes. Students at Risk has given hope at the darkest hour of our lives. The hope that our struggles are appreciated somewhere is a major boost our morale and equally humiliating to the authoritarian regimes.
I dag startet de første av mange rettsaker mot akademikere i Tyrkia, som i januar 2016 signerte et opprop mot myndighetenes behandling av sivile kurdere. Students At Risk-student Ekin Baris Sah var en av dem. Nå risikerer han 7,5 års fengsel.
Endelig kan vi annonsere at Students At Risk-ordningen fortsetter med et fjerde opptak høsten 2018. – Dette er en gledens dag for SAIH, NSO og mange andre støttespillere som lenge har jobbet for ordningen, sier Beathe Øgård og Mats Beldo, ledere av SAIH og NSO.