This blog was also published by the Global Campaign for Education
At the 6th Global Campaign for Education (GCE) World Assembly in Kathmandu last November, the first ever youth caucus convened with youth delegates from all over the world. In only two days, visions and dreams were shared, strategies developed and friendships forged. From this moment on, it was clear that when youth meet, mountains can be moved.
At the end of April this year, youth advocates met again in Johannesburg for a youth strategic meeting. This time to develop a strategy on youth engagement within GCE. Most importantly youth aimed to get a better understanding of our differences as people, as youth advocates and as representatives from our nations.
During these four days, the whole world was under scrutiny. Many questions were put on the table. How can youth engagement be understood? Can it be measured and if yes, how? What are the main challenges faced by youth advocates fighting for equal access to quality education? What is the role of youth within the Global Campaign of Education? How can we learn from each other? How can we work together? And how can the history of the South African struggle against apartheid inspire our everyday lives and the work we do?
Many more questions and discussions were raised, and concrete answers and solutions found. At the end of the event, we proved that we are more than ready and willing to face challenges.
United in our differences
Lately, it seems that inequality and discrimination have been on the rise, attempting to divide people. These frightening tendencies challenge our democracies, demonizing the “other”, and tell us that we are too different to coexist.
During these few days it became clear that all these ideologies are wrong, and that in fact, we are united in our differences, and our diversity only makes us stronger. Together we can learn, build and grow.
Built on mutual respect for our different understandings, contexts and backgrounds it is clear that we as people are far more similar than different. That our contexts differ but our hearts beat for the same kind of change. That we live to see justice and are willing to fight to better our societies.
Youth at the heart of a better tomorrow
Others say that we are too young to understand what it takes to be an active civil society participant and member of society. On the contrary, the quality of the inputs, discussions and overall outputs demonstrate that we are capable of understanding the nuances, asking the necessary questions and offering possible solutions.
We will live and lead the future and hence are co-creators of the societies of today and tomorrow. We are capable and equal partners in any decision-making processes. These four days were only the beginning of more to come. Together we will advocate for a better tomorrow where inclusion is a truism, and where quality, inclusive education is accessible to all.
Young people are already doing incredible work all over the world.
Throwing down a challenge
Now we will challenge the “adults”. Will they support and enable youth activism or will they try to block and tokenize us? This is not an easy task and funding should be allocated to ensure youth are included in a meaningful way. We will be equal partners in every field and have our voices represented at the national, regional and global levels.
The Global Campaign for Education took the first important step to ensure genuine and meaningful youth engagement at all levels of the movement in Kathmandu and then Johannesburg, and we took the second step.
Together, as a global movement for education, we are now ready to work across age and geographic distances to ensure the fundamental right to education is fully realized.