5 reasons for $5 billion: Interview with Alli Neumann & Victoria Ibiwoye

In this series, GPE asks changemakers five questions on the power of education. GPE's financing campaign seeks to raise at least $5 billion to transform education for up to 1 billion children in 90 countries and territories.

March 15, 2021 by GPE Secretariat
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4 minutes read
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5 reasons for $5 billion: Interview with Alli Neumann & Victoria Ibiwoye

Alli Neumann (AN) is a German artist and activist, and uses her platform to advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. She released her first mini-album Hohes Fieber in October 2018 and her second mini-album Monster in 2019. Alli is also known for the movies Christmas Crossfire (2020) and Wach (2018).

Victoria Ibiwoye (VI) is the youth representative for the ED2030 Global Steering Committee and Director of OneAfricanChild Foundation for Creative Learning, a youth-led NGO addressing inequality in education in her home country Nigeria. She is a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow and a recipient of the Princess Diana Legacy Award.

On 16 November 2020, Alli and Victoria talked about the importance of prioritizing quality and inclusive for girls around the world. Watch the Instagram Live here.

1. GPE works to provide inclusive and equitable quality education for all, especially the most marginalized children in crisis situations. What is quality education for you?

VI : Quality education means providing every child with equal opportunities, regardless of their race, social background or where they live, so that they can learn and become active citizens. Education goes beyond stepping foot in a classroom; it’s about creating opportunities for both boys and girls and preparing them so that they become independent, critical thinkers and problem solvers.

AN : Quality education enables us to continuously develop and acknowledge that we do not always know best, learning is never over. It’s not about being right and imposing one’s opinion, but about listening to others and finding solutions together. Education opens our eyes to our community and enables us to stay open-minded.

2. What made you collaborate with GPE?

AN : GPE works in countries in which we have a responsibility to make up for the unfairness and social and economic inequalities that the western world has caused. Many of these inequalities are a result of previous oppression from which most of us are profiting. I believe we must make up for it to understand the complexities of the world and how much we have been taking from other people. This is why I want people everywhere, beyond my neighborhood, to raise their hand and support GPE.

VI : Despite schools reopening, some children won’t be able to return to class, especially girls in underserved communities, and this is what GPE’s Raise Your Hand Campaign is all about. We need support to raise citizens who are prepared to address complexities like this one. As a friend said, there are only positive outcomes when investing in education.

Victoria and Alli during their live conversation on Instagram (6 November 2020).
Victoria and Alli during their live conversation on Instagram (6 November 2020).

3. Alli, how has your own education shaped your activism towards advocating for the rights of other people, and girls in particular?

AN : I had a teacher who did some volunteering raising money to help build schools in economically held back countries. He encouraged us to think of creative ideas; it gave us a feeling of purpose and showed me the importance of not only living for myself but for the communities inside and outside my neighborhood. I got to think more globally and feel connected to others. I grew up with the feeling that I could become anything I wanted, and I want this for other people.

4. Victoria, you are the founder of One African Child Foundation, a youth-led NGO addressing the inequality in education through global citizenship education. From your experience, what are the main effects that COVID-19 is having in rural areas?

VI : We work in some of the most disadvantaged communities in many lower-income countries, where there were already barriers for education before the pandemic. Teachers are usually understaffed, leaving on average one teacher for 150 students, and many schools lack digital devices and facilities. Because many families are losing their jobs, children leave school to support their parents to earn a living. This pandemic is a call to action to governments and people that have the power to invest more in quality education.

5. What do you remember most about school? Were there moments or teachers that had a particularly big impact on you?

AN : Teachers can have a big impact on you, both negative and positive. When I was six years old, I moved from Poland to Germany without speaking the language. My teacher at the time told me I would not make it in Germany, that my mother would not be able to help me because she could not speak German either, and that Poles should better take on unskilled labor jobs. This made me struggle with my Polish identity for a long time, but I also had positive experiences. I had a teacher who saw I wanted to do music and that I had a talent for it. He encouraged me to join the choir and sing at school plays. He believed in me and I will always remember him with a warm heart.

VI : My Mom had a significant influence in my life. She would show me examples of successful women in the community, even if we didn’t have a lot of them, and say: “she is able to support her family; if you get educated, you will have opportunities to dream and become independent as this woman”. I will also never forget my math teacher. I was doing very poorly at school and he would always make math fun and take the time to support me.

Victoria and Alli raising their hands in support of GPE's financing campaign.
Victoria and Alli raising their hands in support of GPE's financing campaign.
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