December 27, 2018

Another amazing year of campaigning and successes for our Global Youth Ambassadors

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, watched by UN education envoy Gordon Brown, is presented with the petition by Global Youth Ambassadors Ousmane Ba, Asmita Ghimire and Lian Wairimu Kariuki

Photo credit: Theirworld

There are more than 900 of them in over 80 countries. They are the Global Youth Ambassadors network - inspirational young advocates and campaigners supporting the movement to get every child into school, to give young children the best start and ensure youth have the skills they need to find work. 

During 2018, the Global Youth Ambassadors took part in many campaigns, both globally and in their own communities. In this article we look at some of their amazing activities and wonderful achievements.

We also carried out an extensive survey of our Global Youth Ambassadors. We start with the results from that.

Programme overview

97% of respondents rated the programme Good or Excellent.

The top five reasons for being a Global Youth Ambassador were:

  1. Being part of a global community of passionate young people advocating for education
  2. Being able to campaign for free, quality, inclusive education
  3. Feeling empowered as a young person
  4. Having a platform that is amplifying the voices of young people
  5. Connecting local and global campaigning

Quotes from Global Youth Ambassadors

“It gives me the opportunity to stay hopeful about my work. Sometimes I feel hopeless about the larger problems in the world - but being a GYA lets me see how so many people in the world are contributing to make the world a better place.” 

Kirthi Jayakumar (India)

“I love being a GYA because I get the opportunity to learn and collaborate with other visionaries who are dedicated in ensuring that every child get access to education and learning.” 

Pertulla Ezigha Ketcha (Cameroon) [F]

“The GYA team give proper time to each and every GYA with out any discrimination - that is why I like and enjoy being a GYA and part of the GYA team.”

Kakar Hayat Hamandzai (Pakistan)


Over 94% of respondents said that they feel connected with our campaigns, with 100% having taken a campaign action with Theirworld in the past 12 months.

Top four campaign actions were:

  1. Petitions
  2. Sharing campaigns via social media
  3. Writing blogs
  4. Sharing Theirworld reports


The Global Youth Ambassadors sprang into action when we released our new WriteTheWrong campaign video all about raising awareness of the true scale of the global education crisis. That helped the film to reach over two million people!

Education funding

A journey which started over a year ago in the run-up to last year’s G20 summit took on new meaning in May this year when Lian Wairimu Kariuki (Kenya), Ousmane Ba (Sierra Leone) and Asmita Ghimire (Nepal) represented the GYA network and over 1.5 million children and young people when they delivered a petition for a bold new funding plan for education for education - the International Finance Facility for Education.

Many youth ambassadors had been pushing the campaign forward ahead of the event by signing our petition - with Kakar Hayat Hamandzai (Pakistan) collecting over 22,000 signatures by himself and telling the world why it is so important to young people.

The Secretary-General added his support for the Facility in May, and this was followed by World Bank and Regional Banks later backing the call for its establishment as well.

At the United Nations General Assembly in New York this year, Omotoke Olowo and Gideon Olanrewaju from Nigeria were at the forefront of  our next campaign push at the #MakeImpossiblePossible event. 

The United Kingdom, Norway, Pakistan, Canada, United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Denmark and the European Union publicly supported the facility, with support also from civil society and business leaders.

Former UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson receives a petition urging Britain to sign the Safe Schools Declaration

Photo credit: Theirworld

Safe Schools

The GYAs have been integral in campaigning for every child to have access to a safe learning environment. They pushed out our new briefing on Safe Schools earlier this month, signed and promoted our Safe Schools petition, as well as campaigning locally and raising awareness.

In April this year, Tauseef and Shomy attended an event on Girls in Emergencies by Global Citizen during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, to help hand over the petition from Global Citizen, Send My Friend to School and Theirworld - asking the UK to sign up to the Safe Schools Declaration. Later that week, the UK officially signed up to the Safe Schools Declaration!

Once again, the GYAs, when we released our new flagship reportSafe Schools: The Hidden Crisis this month, were taking to social media to spread the message and reveal these hidden crises.

Anushka Gupta, who has been helping to educate children and teachers about gender equality. was named as our Safe Schools S/Hero

Photo credit: Theirworld


No child should be denied an education, so when Donald Trump suddenly slashed two-thirds of America’s funding to the United Nations agency (UNRWA) that runs schools for Palestinian children earlier this year, the GYAs signed up to and galvanised support for our petition demanding governments step in and ensure that not a single Palestinian child is told that they cannot go back to school.

They continued to raise awareness of the issues these children are facing and their lack of education. 

In May world-famous magician and Theirworld Ambassador Dynamo went to Lebanon to see the impact on children who have been left out of school by watching and sharing his powerful film (watch it on YouTube or Facebook) on broken promises! The video was watched by over six million people ahead of the UN/EU Syria conference in Brussels.

This pressure helped to ensure that education was firmly on top of the agenda at the conference where Dynamo told world leaders that "these aren't refugees... they're children... we're the ones in the room with the power" to keep the promise. In response, many countries reiterated the promise and in total $4.4bn was pledged to the humanitarian response - and that's without major pledges from the USA and the EU.

Theirworld Ambassador Dynamo went to Lebanon to see the impact on children who have been left out of school

Photo credit: Theirworld

Early childhood development

90% of a child’s brain develops before their fifth birthday so early childhood development (ECD) is critical to give them the best chance in life. 

However, last September, Theirworld discovered that less than 1% of humanitarian aid for ECD is allocated to pre-primary education. That is why the GYAs came together to tell donors that they need to commit 10% of their education funding to pre-primary education by sharing our report released earlier this year.

In October, 12 GYAs from the US responded to our call when the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) produced its draft education policy for public commentary. 

They campaigned for USAID to call for greater investments in early childhood and in particular pre-primary and play. The new policy is now out and we’re excited to say there has been increased focus in pre-primary education compared to previous years!

Last month, UNICEF called for input from young people to help shape their new education strategy and the GYAs took the opportunity again to reinforce the importance of Early Childhood Development and Pre-Primary Education in making sure children arrive at primary school ready to learn. 

Disability advocate Kirthi Jayakumar, who was presented with the Outstanding Woman Achiever Award 2018 by an-all India organisation for women

Photo credit: Kirthi Jayakumar / Theirworld

Inclusive education

Ahead of the first Global Disability Summit in July this year, which was co-hosted by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), in partnership with the government of Kenya, our GYAs took part in Theirworld’s Disability Week to raise awareness of challenges children with disabilities face in getting an education.

Theirworld published a new policy brief on disability focusing on the early years. The briefing clearly shows how too many young children with disabilities are being let down by their governments and donors. 

We're calling on countries and the international community to invest in early interventions for disabled children and provide inclusive, quality pre-primary education urgently. Here’s what your fellow GYAs had to say about the briefing.

GYA disability advocates such as Jeffrey (Nigeria) and Kirthi (India) wrote about their experience, and the week climaxed with GYAs like Diksha (India), Mohammad Yaaseen Edoo (Mauritius) and Ceion Junior Rollox (Guyana) sharing their personal perspectives as young people living with disabilities on Theirworld’s Instagram.

Youth skills

The Youth and Skills Innovation Initiative (YSII) was launched at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last year by the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Ed) to identify how to enhance the skills of young people and inspire collective action by bridging the gap between business, civil society, government and young people to make sure that young people are equipped with the skills they need for their futures.

The initiative has spent the last year conducting research and analysis with its business partners as well as young people. 14 of our GYAs who are on the initiative’s Youth Council were integral in this research - see how they helped and why this work is so important in their own words. 

Furthermore, at the United Nations General Assembly in September, Gideon, one of our GYAs, spoke passionately on the livestream panel, hosted by Deloitte, around youth skills.

Following the successes of the initiative's first year, GBC-Ed will now galvanise pledges, commitments, and action from the private sector to implement its strategy and will be holding regional summits for business, government, academia, and practitioners. 

They will be focused on engaging the business community in support of public education and skills development for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Nandini from Botswana is working to promote accessible and quality learning for all - she was named our Refugees and IDPs S/Hero

Photo credit: Thierworld


All our GYAs are doing fantastic work across the world - so below are just a snapshot of some of their successes over the last 12 months.


Our GYAs are constantly representing the GYA network and Theirworld at local and international events. Below are just a few examples of the amazing representatives and they expertise they already have:

  • Shomy Hasan Chowdhury (Malaysia) was keynote speaker at the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) 2018 Conference. The event reinforces the need for communication and develops partnerships between educators and youth locally, regionally, and globally.

  • Adil Ahmad Langoo (India) gave a speech on his education work at the International Human Rights Summit at the United Nations in New York. The summit had over 200 young people and many dignitaries present as Adil spoke about the great work of his initiative Inspire Me Global, which is currently running three schools for Rohingya refugees.

  • Kehinde Odanye (Nigeria) not only chaired the UNESCO Committee at the first Obafemi Awolowo University Model United Nations in Nigeria, but did so whilst recovering from a broken leg! Over 250 young people from Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon attended the event and Kehinde says: “It was a great experience, especially using the Anglo-Saxon style of chairing.”

  • Ibrahim Galal Ibrahim Fakirah (Yemen), Sarah Mwikali Musau (Kenya), Julius Karl Dugboer Fieve (Ghana) and Kenneth Gyamerah (Ghana) all participated in the One Young World Summit at The Hague, Netherlands this year. They were among the 1,400 young leaders in attendance to network and find solutions to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Julius gave an amazing speech appealing to young people to stand up and make differences in their countries - his speech received a standing ovation

Learning new skills

Young people should be recognised as key leaders in creating sustainable development and you should be given the skills you need to do this.

This year we were thrilled to be able to run a mini six-month training programme called GYA Influencers.

Rohan Shinde (India), Maisha Reza (Singapore), Sylvia Kakyo (Uganda), Tauseef Rasheq Ahad (Malaysia) and Joannes Yimbesalu (Canada) became our very first cohort of GYA Influencers at the beginning of the year and helped us trial the new training programme.

From January to July they worked hard on upskilling themselves in campaigning and influencing through a variety of real life tasks to help the GYA network and dedicated training sessions. Find out what they did, learnt and thought of the training here.

Over the course of the year, our GYAs told us that by being part of the GYA network they have developed knowledge and skills in campaigning, global education, youth empowerment, leadership, networking, communications and resilience to name a few!

Some of our very first cohort of GYA Influencers

Photo credit: Theirworld


A lot of our GYAs have their own projects that they have set up to deliver a real impact in their local communities. Some of the highlights from the new projects set up this year are:

  • Gulwali Passarlay (UK) co-founded a new not-for-profit organisation called ‘My Bright Kite CIC’. My Bright Kite was founded to deliver a range of sustainable services to improve the inclusion and wellbeing of young refugees.

  • Monde Sitole (South Africa) - founder of Monde Sitole Foundation, was training for his Mount Everest climb... without bottled oxygen! Monde took on the extreme challenge to raise funds to build an all girls school in his village of Lady Frefre. He aims to live his mantra and inspire people to dare to dream.

  • Chetan Pardeshi (India) founded the initiative S for Schools at the beginning of this year to help combat children dropping out of school in India. Within its first five months Chetan and the initiative have helped over 650 students from rural parts of India - where dropout rates are the worst, by providing school materials.

  • Well done to Oguntunde Oluwatosin Philip (Nigeria), the founder and Executive Director of Social Impact Africa, who was featured in the The Afrikan Legacy Blog, and shared his ideas on how human capital development can be improved in Africa, especially through education.

  • Angella Nantongo (Uganda) and her NGO, Dharmic Uganda, fundraised over $6,000 and have purchased an acre of land in Uganda which will be the sight of their new Innovation Hub. The Innovation Hub, which is due to be completed in 2020, will be a place where children and young people can develop technology and innovation skills to help develop creativity and strengthen children/youth skills in Mukono district Uganda.

Chetan Pardeshi from India founded the initiative S for Schools to help prevent children dropping out of education

Photo credit: S for Schools


GYA S/Hero week is an annual event where the GYA network celebrates exceptional GYAs. This year’s theme was Theirworld’s campaigns/areas focusing on work both with the network and ‘in the field’. There were seven categories and the winners are voted in by their fellow GYAs. We were very proud to profile our GYA Campaign S/Heroes below:

Stephen Odiwuur was named the Early Childhood Development S/Hero

Photo credit: Theirworld

Many of our GYAs have also been recognised externally as leaders of today. This year:

  • Yesika Aguilera (Spain) has been chosen as one of Forbes 30 under 30 for two years in a row.

  • Omotoke Olowo (Nigeria) was one of three winners of the OD Impact Challenge with her initiative Autism Awareness Place, which teaches children with disabilities through creative learning.

  • Harshit Gupta (India), founder of Womenite, won the National Youth Award awarded by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India on National Youth Day.

  • Julius Karl Dugboer Fieve (Ghana) was named as one of Ghana’s Top 30 under 30 Pioneers for 2018 by Future of Ghana. Julius says: “Being a pioneer is a call to duty to work for the growth and development of our communities and Africa.”

  • Kungaba Fongoh Leonel (Cameroon) was voted the 2017 Most Influential Young Cameroonian. The award rightly reflects the fantastic work Kungaba has been doing as a GYA, but also with the government of Cameroon, the World BankUN WomenHeForShe and many more.

  • Congratulations to Kirthi Jayakumar (India) who was presented with the Outstanding Woman Achiever Award 2018 by an all India organisation for women for her social entrepreneur work.

  • Tshegofatso Modiga (South Africa) who was honoured to be the first female and youngest person to be featured on the cover of a renowned South African magazine called Entrepreneur Puzzle.

Find out what our Global Youth Ambassadors achieved in 2017

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