From the environment and disabilities to leadership and business skills, here's how education is being used by young activists to make a difference.
- August 12 is International Youth Day - a day designated by the United Nations General Assembly to serve as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth.
- Read about how our Global Youth Ambassadors - a network of 900 young activists in over 80 countries - are making education changes in their communities.
Tyrell Gittens (Trinidad and Tobago)
We depend daily on the earth’s natural resources for the maintenance of our livelihoods. However, our resources are currently being degraded and depleted due to unsustainable usage.
In the face of continuous environmental destruction and subsequent issues such as climate change, societal issues of inequality and fallouts like poverty have intensified.
With a passion for nature, I have chosen to use my voice to help educate others about the importance of our environment in Trinidad and Tobago. Working closely with the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) I continue to ensure the inclusivity of youths as key stakeholders amongst decision-making tables.
In efforts to edify the minds of future generations, I have assisted with the development of school visits throughout Trinidad and Tobago. This has engaged over 500 students in several schools on the topic of sustainable water use.
To expand on my efforts I am currently working on a children’s book that will be published this year which is geared towards the topic of sustainable water use.
As a recent graduate in the field of geography and natural resource management, I believe that I have a role to play in creating a healthy and stable environment, which is key to a healthy and stable society.
Adesanya Babajide Emmanuel (Nigeria)
I am part of a team of young, brilliant Africans who have taken up the task of ensuring that younger generations are properly prepared, equipped and taught with good mindsets. Our goal is to have our future adults being actively responsible in nation-building and being good examples to others.
Over the years we have celebrated, equipped and trained children in different capacities, especially children with disabilities, who we call “Gems”. This year we decided to focus more attention on child literacy and improved communication skills for the younger generation.
In July we went to a children's centre in the locality of Idi-araba in Lagos State and spent quality time with the kids there. We had activities like book reading, poem recitation, games etc. This helped us to communicate with children and assess their present level of literacy and the best approach for helping them to be better trained.
We donated some books to the facility and since then have been making arrangements for the provision of more reading materials and reading aids for the children there.
Alexandra Sideris (Greece)
I have always been fascinated by the excessive amount of competitive ambition we humans create. From a very young age we are advised and pushed to create huge CVs that will later be deemed inadequate and lacking an unpredicted element.
We have created a leaders' factory. But if we are all leaders, what and who are we going to lead? Are we simply going to rename expertise in a field as leadership, in an equivalent sector?
In other words, we have forgotten how to solve problems. For the time being we are just seeking recognition and acceptance for our efforts without targeted actions.
This is where Model UN can help, dear reader. Model UN is an extracurricular, educational and mostly fun activity connected to the deeper understanding of several international organisations' proceedings with students role-playing the work of diplomats.
What is interesting is the fact that participants are required to come up with a solution to ongoing international issues which represent the interests of multiple countries.
In these conferences, participants struggle to come up with long documents, resolving a series of problems. But as soon as the simulation is over, these papers are considered wasted material or boring notes with no practical applicability. On some occasions, we are thrilled if a higher official even takes a look at our documents.
Imagine, just imagine, the benefits of implementing this simple formula of discussions in real life. Armed with the will to reach a solution and during the discussions putting ourselves in the other’s shoes for a while, our actions could have a tremendous impact.
I am not asking you to start new conferences or spend the time learning how it works. It is very simple, regardless of the context - try to conduct conversations targeting one problem at a time and, most importantly, switch roles if possible and try to defend even your “opponent's” ideas and beliefs.
The results will be outstanding and the final list of problems solved will surprise you.
The need for a creative, wider agreement as an approach is really what we need at the moment. The Model UN formula can help us to achieve that, and we do not need prestigious locations to make that happen, just determined people to work. So, should we bring MUNs on the streets?
Javnyuy Joybert (Cameroon)
Through The Centre for Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Business Management Development (CELBMD) Africa, over the past five years our programmes in enterprise development skills, employability skills, corporate efficiency and life skills, have proven to raise aspirations, reduce youth unemployment and crime, and raise change agents.
For the past two years we have targeted young people who leave high school and can't afford university education who were left stranded in the community and were later prone to street life crime activities and drug addiction.
We provided them with employability and entrepreneurial skills that has led them to get entry level jobs in small businesses, NGOs, not-for-profits, large corporations and also in the creation of startups leading to social justice and peace.
Africa needs to empower its young people to increase their ability to personally influence what is happening in their lives and communities which will lead to social justice and peace. This is why I founded The Centre for Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Business Management Development (CELBMD) Africa, which today has trained over 8700 youths in over 18 countries in Africa.
Harriet Kamashanyu (Uganda)
I am founder and Executive Director of Rhythm of Life. We set up the organisation in 2013, bringing education and hands-on training opportunities to the marginalised communities of daughters of sex workers in the red light districts of Uganda to break the vicious cycle of mother-daughter prostitution.
We have created a sponsorship programme to support their daughters in education and professional healthcare training.
Most importantly, through our economic empowerment initiatives, our women will eventually be able to independently support their daughters through school.
We also run health outreaches in the red light districts of Kampala for HIV-positive sex workers. In time, we want to build a permanent health cafe in Kampala for women who have or, are facing, stigma and exclusion from healthcare.
Umair Asif (Pakistan)
I have been working to implement the right to education law through advocacy. I believe education is a strong tool in fighting against violent extremism, as illiterate people have been an open target to extremist groups.
Every child in school will reduce opportunities for negative groups to brainwash youths, as educated minds ask questions and think logically.
Through advocacy of parents I increase enrolment and through advocacy of politicians I am improving school infrastructure and quality.
Classrooms are also safe places to discuss ideas, learn science and maths, and ensure inclusivity. In a classroom, every child is included without discrimination of race, caste or social status. Education also increases levels of tolerance in youngsters that leads to increased peace.
Moreover, educated youths believe in rights and justice and raise their voices to seek it.
My work to educate each and every child is promoting social inclusion, social justice and peace amongst communities.
Sarah Mwikali (Kenya)
My organization @GiftedPWDCentre is holding a live twitter chat from Thursday, August 9 to Sunday, August 12.
We are highlighting and celebrating young people with or without disabilities across Africa who have been impacting and creating change in the disability sector, especially in education. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
We will also be participating at the VSO and Parliament International Youth Day event on Saturday, August 11, where we will be sharing safe digital spaces for youth with disabilities.