Only half of Theirworld’s youth activists believe all children will have quality education by 2030

The UN's goal is for every child to access quality education by 2030. Here some children at a camp for displaced people in Nigeria are assessed by the non-profit AREAi, a winner of the Theirworld Edcation Innovation Awards. AREAi was founded by Gideon Seun Olanrewaju, a Theirworld Global Youth Ambassador (Theirworld/Faje Kashope)

Global Youth Ambassadors, Sarah Brown

Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown reveals some initial results from a major survey as she says: “When youth speak, leaders will listen.”

A Theirworld survey shows that just half of our Global Youth Ambassadors believe the United Nations is on track to meet its target of inclusive and quality education for all children by 2030. 

And nearly nine in 10 of our network of activists feel world leaders are not doing enough to deliver top-class learning to young people. 

The sobering results were revealed by Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown at a session of Bond Future Dialogues, where innovative thinkers explore the UK’s role in international development beyond 2030. 

She talked about why it’s important to listen to and be led by young people – and what Theirworld has learned about doing that well. 

Sarah said: “When youth speak, leaders will listen. It’s about how we coordinate those messages so that we have young people speaking up, using their talent, their energy, their ideas to deliver that change.  

“Young people must have a say in the policies that will affect their lives. They need to become the real experts on how development money will be spent.” 

Sarah shared some early results from Theirworld’s survey of more than 10,000 young people aged 16 to 30, carried out by Omnicom’s Hall & Partners. The participants include more than 500 of our Global Youth Ambassadors (GYAs), a network of young campaigners in more than 90 countries. 

The survey found: 

  • Only 51% of GYAs think the UN IS on track to meet its goal of inclusive and quality education for all children by 2030. 42% feel strongly that the UN is NOT on track.  
  • 87% of GYAs DO NOT feel world leaders are doing enough to give children a quality education. Just 5% think they ARE doing enough. 


"Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all."

Asked what they would say to world leaders, a campaigner from Uganda said: “Education is a means of achieving a world of peace, justice, freedom and equality for all.” An activist from Nigeria said: “Education should be the first priority for every person on Earth.”  

Theirworld has been growing the GYA programme since it was established in 2014. Sarah said: “What we have learned from our campaigning is that raising your voice is one thing, ensuring that your voice is persuasive is quite another. Ambitious partnerships have the power to turn one voice into many more, to break down resistance and build movements that become unstoppable.” 

She said GYAs were the driving force behind the #UpForSchool Petition, the world’s biggest education petition with 11 million signatures. It was handed in at the UN in 2015. 

The movement raised the profile of education’s importance globally as the Sustainable Development Goals were being drawn up. This helped to lead to the creation of Education Cannot Wait, the first fund dedicated to financing education for children in humanitarian emergencies. 

Theirworld will publish the full results of the youth survey soon. 

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