Rojava University, Western Kurdistan, Syria

Rojava University, Western Kurdistan, Syria

"For their final projects, students choose a particular social problem, then research it and write a thesis on how to resolve it."

"Rojava seeks to develop a new, alternative social science for the 21st century – what Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), calls ‘sociology of freedom’. For their final projects, students choose a particular social problem, then research it and write a thesis on how to resolve it. So the learning is practical as well as intellectual, and intended to serve a social good.

Indeed, education in Rojava is not about ‘building a career and getting rich’. Rather, academy students are taught to ‘ask themselves how to enrich society’. Similarly, the academy seeks not to develop professionalism but to cultivate the well-rounded person. ‘We believe humans are organisms, they can’t be cut up into parts, separated into sciences,’ an instructor told us. ‘One can be a writer or a poet and also be interested in economy, because human beings are part of all life.’

Unlike conventional western approaches, the academy’s pedagogy rejects the unidirectional transmission of facts. Indeed, it doesn’t strictly separate teachers and students. Teachers learn from students and vice versa; ideally, through inter-subjective discourse, they come to shared conclusions."