GPE youth voices at the RewirEd Summit 2021

To amplify the voices of youth in key high-level dialogues, GPE supported two youth leaders to attend the RewirEd Summit.

February 03, 2022 by Maryjacob Okwuosa, and Armel Azihar Sly-vania, IMARA Comoros
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4 minutes read
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GPE Youth Leaders Maryjacob (left) and Armel (right).
GPE Youth Leaders Maryjacob (left) and Armel (right).
Credit: GPE Youth Leaders

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many gatherings and engagements to go online, which has reduced the access of young people to high-level conversations and decision-making spaces.

But the RewirEd 2021 Summit, held December 12–14, convened in-person, and with GPE’s support we, two youth leaders from Nigeria and Comoros, were able to participate and engage at the summit.

This world-class education event brought together global stakeholders to address challenges facing the education sector, including the impact of COVID-19, by exploring new approaches and providing opportunities for participants to agree on concrete actions.

Through a mix of high-level plenary sessions, technical workshops, discussions and side events, the RewirEd Summit focused on three key pressing areas in global education: Youth, Skills and the Future of Work; Innovation in Education; and Education Financing.

Over three days of intense engagement, youth leaders advocated to hold governments accountable for their commitments to Agenda 2030, focusing on SDG 4—to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

For the youth leaders, the RewirEd Summit began with a pre-summit event led by Restless Development, where we connected with other young activists from across the world. This opened networking opportunities and greater platforms for youth to unite and organize for a better future.

GPE youth leaders at the Restless Development youth training
GPE youth leaders at the Restless Development youth training

Understanding the current state of education

The summit kicked off with a powerful opening plenary, where world leaders and other global stakeholders dived into the present state of education globally.

We appreciated the plenary’s focus on youth partnerships towards building a strong future for youth.

The summit’s power-packed sessions opened our eyes to the need for more work to reach the future we want, by investing in education in the present.

At the end of day 1, we met with Euan Wilmshurst, Head of Advocacy and Communication at LEGO Foundation. Our conversation focused on the importance of inclusion of youth voices at all levels.

GPE youth leaders Armel (left) and Maryjacob (right) with Euan Wilmshurst (center)
GPE youth leaders Armel (left) and Maryjacob (right) with Euan Wilmshurst (center).

Youth focus on key issues

On day 2, we joined Helen Grant, U.K. Special Envoy on Girls’ Education, and other youth leaders to discuss the importance of practicing self-care as activists.

As Helen shared, "You are young and strong, but if you don't take care of yourself you won't be able to achieve more in life"—an impactful and timely reminder youth activists! We also shared our perspectives on the need to accelerate access to quality education for girls.

Armel joined a high-level panel on climate change and education that highlighted education’s crucial role in combating the climate crisis.

Armel was honored to be on stage with the other leaders, discussing solutions for a better future.

She also emphasized the importance of educating girls as a critical step to effectively combat climate change. “My presence was important as we believe young people can also contribute and make change happen.”

Armel (second from left) on the panel on climate change
Armel (second from left) on the panel on climate change.

It can sometimes be difficult for young people to see themselves reflected in leadership, so it was great to meet Minister David Sengeh from Sierra Leone and hear him talk of what it takes to succeed in a leadership role while being a young leader.

He spotlighted the innovative and creative mindset that young leaders bring and their potential for impact.

GPE youth leaders and staff with Minister David Sengeh
GPE youth leaders and staff with Minister David Sengeh

Another exciting moment for the youth leaders was meeting the new GPE Board Chair Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, the former president of Tanzania, who has contributed to regional and continues to advocate for children worldwide.

Our conversation with him centered on youth leadership and their involvement in decision-making processes globally. President Kikwete encouraged us to “make room to be seen” for who we are, saying “we are passing the baton.”

GPE Board Chair President Kikwete with GPE youth leaders
GPE Board Chair President Kikwete with GPE youth leaders

On the final day of the summit, Maryjacob spoke alongside President Kikwete and many other high-level speakers on financing education, emphasizing the urgency to fund education for economic stability, peace and development.

It’s time for action

There is still a lot to be done to get every child in school and learning. We must prioritize education, as it is the key to the development of all other sectors.

Young people should be given space to lead and champion issues of education transformation—their voices, perspectives and experience are critical.

We will keep speaking up and taking action to build the quality inclusive education systems we dream of seeing.

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