May 18, 2018

"New global education funding is a source of hope for millions of children"

The IFFEd petition is handed to António Guterres​ by Global Youth Ambassadors Ousmane Ba, Asmita Ghimire and Lian Wairimu Kariuki, watched by Gordon Brown

Photo credit: Education Commission / Lana Wong

Three of our Global Youth Ambassadors tell how they delivered a call for action from 1.5 million young people to the head of the United Nations.

One week ago today, three youth activists from Nepal, Sierra Leone and Kenya stood in the heart of the United Nations. 

They were part of a historic milestone for global education funding. The three - members of Theirworld's network of Global Youth Ambassadors in 90 countries - delivered a petition with 1.5 million signatures to UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

It called for the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) to be backed by the international community - unlocking an additional $10 billion a year to help millions of children into school.

With a few days to reflect on their momentous visit to New York, our Global Youth Ambassadors tell what they saw, what they learned and what they hope for next.

Asmita Ghimire from Nepal

Thank you so much Global Youth Ambassadors and Theirworld for giving this opportunity to us. We have been the leaders of a proud, historic and glorious moment that has now been written in the history of the United Nations. 

It was a great honour and privilege to be there with my fellow Global Youth Ambassadors. It was one of my lucky days to meet UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown. 

Asmita Ghimire in New York with the IFFEd petition book

Photo credit: Education Commission / Lana Wong

This was a life-changing experience. When I was at the UN I felt that I was not alone - I am not a lone voice. I was the voice of my fellow 900 Global Youth Ambassadors and I was the voice of those millions of children and young people around the world who are deprived of the right to quality education. 

I was happy and honoured to be presenting the petition to the UN Secretary-General on behalf of 1.5 million young people. The message from all youth is to make the impossible possible.

António Guterres talked about this experience in promoting education. When he was Prime Minister of Portugal, education was the passion of his government - and he said it should be the passion of any government in the world. 

Like him, I believe that education is the key to opportunities for a better life, a better world, a better future. Educating children is an investment in their futures and in peaceful and prosperous societies.

Through IFFEd, more children will be educated. Those children then will be able to eliminate gender inequality and poverty.

Asmita Ghimire, Global Youth Ambassador from Nepal

That’s why the UN Secretary-General welcomed the petition and encouraged others to support the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) to mobilise additional funding. 

Through IFFEd, more children will be educated. Those children then will be able to eliminate gender inequality and poverty, create a sustainable planet and prevent needless deaths and illness. 

When children are educated, they are armed with the courage and self-confidence to better themselves and their families, their communities and ultimately the next generation. 

The IFFEd money will also help to build schools and provide equipment such as computer facilities, science labs and playgrounds. Those schools will be equipped with proper educational materials and trained staff.

I urge my fellow Global Youth Ambassadors around the world to continue to use our education to open opportunities for children. We must continue to use our voices for them to be heard. Our talents for them to be noticed. Our hearts for them to have hope.

Ousmane Ba shakes hands with António Guterres after the handover of the IFFEd petition

Photo credit: Education Commission / Lana Wong

Ousmane Ba from Sierra Leone

For me, the heavy nature of the campaign did not hit me until I received the actual signatures. Sitting in the office in New York, everything started to sink in and I began to realise the weight of the campaign and its 1.5 million signatures. 

These were not just mere signatures, a pen on paper. They represent 1.5 million young people calling for massive funding in education. They represent millions of children and girls deprived of their right to education. They represent struggles and pains my fellow Global Youth Ambassadors went through to get the signatures.

I eventually understood that I carry a heavy responsibility and it was not about me - it was about our shared objective of ensuring that every child gets a decent shot at education. 

I would like to commend all Global Youth Ambassadors who participated in collecting the signatures. Together, we have proven the power of young people and that we are more than ready to bring about change.

The International Finance Facility for Education( IFFED) was a big milestone. But for me it was also personal because girls' education is on the agenda. I am a feminist and fierce advocate for girls education.

Ousmane, Lian and Asmita are interviewed for UN Radio

Photo credit: Theirworld

I work tirelessly to send girls to school through the Girl Child Project. Having girls' education on the agenda really makes the facility more inclusive and appealing. 

It is with this mindset and enthusiasm that we delivered the signatures to the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. In a room full of media representatives, he accepted the petition in good spirit, expressed his total support for IFFEd and committed to making the facility a reality. 

Then, we had a joint interview with Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, at UN Radio. We talked about the importance of IFFEd and the urgency to mobilise massive global funding for education. 

I couldn't agree more when he said that girls' education and gender equality is the civil right struggle of our time. That is why IFFEd is now a personal project for me and I will make sure I articulate it in my advocacy platform. 

The official endorsement of IFFEd is truly a milestone in closing the gap in education. It is a source of hope for millions of children and girls around the world. 

We must continue and keep the campaign strong and going. What we have done should give hope for what we can achieve.

Lian Wairimu Kariuki holds the petition book as Gordon Brown talks to our Global Youth Ambassadors

Photo credit: Theirworld

Lian Wairimu Kariuki from Kenya

It was a humbling experience to represent hundreds of young voices during the International Financing Facility for Education (IFFEd) petition handover - an initiative that will change the lives of children forever.

Presenting 1.5 million signatures from young people to the UN Secretary-General was powerful. It symbolised the millions of children determined to learn and have access to quality education. 

The Secretary-General welcomed the signatures with open arms and agreed that quality education is crucial and that the United Nations is committed to prioritising education. 

It was also a great experience to speak to and have a joint interview with the former British Prime Minister and UN education envoy Gordon Brown, who was very warm and welcoming. 

I witnessed how passionate he is about education and how determined he is to empower young people.

I also had the opportunity to speak to permanent representatives to the UN and other international leaders from various countries, such as Vietnam, and multilateral development banks. 

The leaders were also in support of IFFEd and encouraged us to continue our campaign during the UN General Assembly. I assured them that we are all ready to focus our skills and knowledge on empowering the lives of future generations.

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