CORE is helping students understand the economic challenges of a society with high unemployment and low average income
Type of institution: University
Location: Sainte-Clotilde, La Réunion
Course: General Principles of Economics/Law/Economic and Social Administration
Number of students: 2,000
La Réunion is a French island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, sandwiched between Madagascar and Mauritius. With a society, economy and identity very separate from its European parent, La Réunion had its own set of very particular demands from the CORE curriculum.
The island is part of Europe, and yet isolated from it, with a distinct identity. Teachers at The University of La Réunion were enthusiastic to teach an economics course that would present economics for a changing world, as CORE promised. If, however, the world in their textbook had nothing to do with the specific economic trends of La Réunion, it would do little to do engage them.
The challenge would be to get students to identify with what they were learning. CORE needed to offer something meaningful to the lives of children who had grown up on a French island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Dr Zoulfikar Mehoumoud Issop, the Director of the Economics Department who made the decision to teach The Economy, had to address this.
CORE became the economic element of the University’s Law course, as well as its Economic and Social Administration course.
‘A particular difficulty with every economics syllabus is the absence of facts and examples on France and Europe, even if the examples from other countries enabled the comparison with the particularities of La Réunion’s economy. La Réunion Island is a French overseas territory and an ultra-peripheric region from the European Union, presenting some special employment and demographic characteristics.’
Although the CORE syllabus didn’t deal with La Réunion’s problems specifically, its focus on real-world problems started the conversation. ‘The differences between the Reunion and metropolitan French regions have been underlined in class: a larger unemployment rate, larger households, a lower level of education, and low income from pensions and wealth. The gap between rich and poor is larger too.’
From a practical point of view, CORE has fitted seamlessly into the University of La Réunion’s way of life. From 2018, CORE’s quizzes and exercises will be incorporated into the University’s Moodle-based intranet. As The Economy develops more resources for teachers and students, the particular experiences and needs of La Réunion are a reminder that localization is about more than just translating the text: the faculty is looking for more real-world examples that its students can relate to in future. Even so, CORE did such a good job at bringing economics at the University up to date, that it ended up forming part of several curricula. Dr Issop explains:
‘Across the campuses in La Reunion—from Saint Denis in the north, to Le Tampon in the south—CORE became the economic element of the University’s Law course, as well as its Economic and Social Administration course. Unit 1 of The Economy has become part of the main lectures, and was fully functioning in the classroom too. The course’s flexibility meant that economic tools could be taught in the classroom, while lectures were used to explain real life scenarios.’
At the same time students eased into independent study; a task they were well-equipped for thanks to CORE.
‘Students were fascinated to hear that their new economics syllabus would deal with real-world events – whether that was labour and progress, or unemployment and economic fluctuations. They made full use of the CORE website, downloading the units, watching the videos, answering the quizzes and completing the multiple-choice questions,’ Dr Issop says.