Emilija Lafond


Subject Education
Course MA International Studies in Education
Country Canada
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Hi I’m also from Canada and am very much interested in this program as my degree is poli sci and I’e been working as a foreign language teacher for the past 13 years or so. My question is in regards to how closely related is this program to international development studies?

Hi there – great question! This is something I wondered about quite a bit, as my undergraduate degree started off in Global Development Studies, and I was hoping for some overlap back to the field I started my post-secondary education in.

I would have to say that the program has the opportunity to be focused towards a more Int’l Development direction if that’s where your interests lie. I came into this program with an outline for my dissertation which focused on First Nations communities in southern Ontario – a very intersectional field – examining culture, politics, economics, and the changes they’ve gone through both as an individual community, and how that is a part of a greater Canadian community, through education, or lack thereof.

That being said, I made sure that all the classes I chose (there are many to choose from) covered topics that I would be discussing, or at least relating to in my dissertation. In many cases, they stemmed from an international development perspective, rooted in education, and the development of education.

Hope this answers your question!

Hello Emilija! Did you study full-time and if so, how many days did you have to attend? The reason I am asking this is because I am also working full-time and I am trying to see if I can fit everything in.

Hi there! Great question. I did study full-time; I managed to make my schedule only require me to be in class for two, or three days per week, and traveled the other days of the week (bringing school work with me of course). There is a part-time option as well – though takes three years to complete.

If you are able to do the full-time option, I think that with excellent time management, and early starts/completion on all assignments (they’re given out within the first week or two of classes), you could pull it off quite successfully. There are days where you are required to go on field trips, and observations as well, which ends up being longer than just your usual lecture time. If you take initiative and come to the program with a solid outline/research knowledge base for your dissertation, it will make the writing of the actual thesis much easier, and less stressful when those final months arrive – which in turn also allows you to have the courses fit your research interest benefitting your final paper.

In short – yes, you could probably do it while working full-time as long as you attend all your lectures, plan ahead for your workload, and do as much reading/research as you can for the courses before they actually start. It’ll be a cvery busy year, but you’ll feel great at the end. 🙂 Hope this helps! Feel free to ask if you have any more questions!

OF WHAT BENEFIT WOULD THE MASTERS IN “INTERNATIONAL STUDIES IN EDUCATION DEGREE” BE TO ZIMBABWE AND /OR AFRICA?

Hello! Thanks for your question!

I think this particular Masters program would be beneficial for a student of any country – as it’s catered to directly support you specific interests in education, of a particular region.

I cannot speak to the direct benefits to a student in regards to Zimbabwe/Africa, as I have no personal experiences, or any familiarity with education in Africa to any extent other than some limited exposure in some classes. My research and main focus was based on Indigenous education in Canada, and as such any further reading I did in addition to the coursework, would be directly related to my thesis on this topic.

I would recommend reaching out to a student from Zimbabwe, or another country in Africa – as they probably have a better understanding than myself!

Was there a big transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study?

Coming from Canada where I completed my undergraduate degree, I was expecting significant differences between the teaching, expectations, and evaluation styles. I would have to say that the differences haven’t been as I imagined, though coming from a program that used a combination of multiple choice, short and long answer exams, and essays, to a single assignment – an essay – as evaluation, was intense. I definitely like the way the assignments are structured, and the fact that they’re provided to us in the first week of classes, this way we have all the opportunity to begin working on them early on.

Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

Before applying to Universities for post-grad study in Education, I did a lot of research about the programs, and made a point of reaching out to student mentors to talk about the opportunities and courses available. The University of Birmingham stood out in a number of ways – not only is the University itself absolutely beautiful, and in a wonderful part of the country, but it also had an incredibly diverse array of professors, and students. I had the chance to visit the campus before accepting my offer, and immediately knew that this is where I was going to call home for the next year.

Can you describe your journey from school to where you are now?

When I started my undergraduate degree, I thought that I had a passion for International Development – I was quickly proved wrong when I began attending classes, and promptly switched into Gender Studies after a fluke Genders course as an elective. Through my BA I realized that the role of education, and acquiring knowledge is incredibly important and diverse – at primary, secondary and postsecondary levels. Gender studies opened up an array of doors in fields relating to social justice, acceptance, community, and inclusivity and thus encouraged me to pursue my Montessori training. My goal has always been to help others – and I believe teaching is one of those fields that makes it possible. Working on my Masters here, has been an incredible source of inspiration for my future projects in education, and has led me to explore education from, and in an international perspective.

What, for you, are the best things about the course?

Personally, the best part about the International Studies in Education (taught) course is the balance between modules, and preparing to write an independent thesis. I think it’s very beneficial to take classes that are generally related to your specific field of interest, while exploring topics for a thesis because it helps expand your scope, presents new theories and schools of thought, and acts as an active environment where you can discuss ideas, ask questions, and express concerns! The people I have met in my courses have definitely helped form and establish a more solid foundation for my research, than if I would have done it entirely on my own!

What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate study in your field?

A very simple piece of advice I would give anyone who wants to pursue postgraduate study, would be to make sure that they’re ready to jump into another year or two of school. It’s a huge commitment – financially, and psychologically, and it’s worth taking some time to think about it long and hard. Before jumping into more school, I really believe that taking some time to travel and explore the world is an invaluable experience – it has the ability to open up your mind and heart to new perspectives and experiences. And, it’s something you can do on any budget. Learning happens all the time, and if you allow yourself to learn in a place you’re not familiar with, you’ll realize how much more there is to know, about subjects you think you’re already familiar with.