Free University Brighton by Ali Ghanimi
Free University Brighton, or FUB, is a community-led initiative that organises and promotes practical and academic education – all of it free.
Established in Oct 2012, in response to the Government’s education cuts and the tripling of tuition fees, FUB is about getting people to share their knowledge and experience in social spaces and invites people to ask for things they want to learn through the website’s wish list.
And the offers are plentiful. FUB advertises a diverse array of courses, workshops, talks, films, educational walks and discussion groups. Subjects range from Criminology to playing the Ukulele, from Scriptwriting to researching your family history online.
FUB is both practical and political, offering a menu of education accessible to all while enabling people to come together in their neighbourhood to discuss and address contemporary social issues. With an economic, political and environmental crisis on a global scale there has never been a greater need to do this. The rapid spread of Occupy and associated movements across the world clearly demonstrate that people feel things are wrong and desire change.
As Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Yet the task of challenging the status quo isn’t being taken up by the mainstream educational institutions and the media, leaving a gap which FUB and other free universities attempt, albeit in a small way, to fill.
But FUB is as much about bringing communities together at a time when they are most at risk of fragmenting. It’s founder, Ali Ghanimi, says “At a time when people are being turned against each other, forced to compete for scarce jobs and resources, projects like FUB create a culture of giving. Getting to know your neighbours, sharing interests, learning together, that builds stronger communities.” FUB’s website carries a quote from French philosopher Jaques Ranciere which sums up the free university movement perfectly…
“The government does not owe the people education for the simple reason that one does not owe the people what it can take for itself. And education is like liberty: it is not given, it is taken.”