As a passionate advocate for quality education and gender equality, I am always interested in attending international forums to discuss my passion and gather knowledge that I can bring back to my community and continue to create a positive impact.
This is why I had always wanted to participate to the One Young World Summit. I finally got the opportunity to do so last month in the Hague, the Netherlands.
One Young World, which was founded in 2009 by David Jones and Kate Robertson, is a UK-based charity that gathers the brightest young leaders from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change.
One Young World stages an annual summit where young talent from global and national companies, NGOs, universities and other forward-thinking organizations are joined by world leaders, acting as counsellors. At the summit, delegates debate, formulate and share innovative solutions for the pressing issues the world faces.
Being among advocates from around the world
I was humbled to learn that I was chosen as a one of 40 peace ambassadors for the 2018 cohort at the summit, thanks in part to support by the Global Partnership for Education, and I was proud to be a flag bearer for my country, The Gambia. Side by side with young people from over 190 countries, I raised the Gambian flag at the Peace Palace at The Hague.
It was incredible to see 1,800 participants at the event. Being chosen as one of the 40 peace ambassadors meant a lot to me, a recognition of my efforts to advocate for peace and against violent extremism.
Who inspired me?
At the summit, I was a panelist during a multi-faith session titled “We are One”. My key messages were: we must respect our differences and be tolerant of all religions. Every person must have the right to choose their religion or none; no one should be forced into a particular faith.
Other speakers at the summit were equally extraordinary and hearing their speeches has increased my resolve even more to advocate for quality education.
Mo Ibrahim provided highlights on the governance and development challenges hindering progress in Africa. He spoke about weak African governance systems, the importance of holding our governments accountable and how young people’s agency, activism and involvement are crucial to the development of the continent. His talk boosted my willingness to engage in more mentorship programs for young people in my country to ensure they know and exercise their rights and responsibilities.
Akon, a renowned American musician, also inspired me. He talked about volunteerism, dedication and hard work to achieve meaningful development in the world. He encouraged us to dedicate time for volunteering in order to contribute to development and create positive change in the lives of people.
Thinking outside the box
I made many connections at the summit and interacted with a variety of youth leaders. Through these interactions, I was able to expand my thinking and develop more ideas for my education advocacy program.
I talked about the work of my foundation, especially the mentorship program in which we work closely with young people. I was able to identify areas of improvement for our new programs such as building strong relationship with governments in order to hold them accountable on their expenditure in the area of education.
I also discussed the work of the Global Partnership for Education, which is leading the global movement to drive political will, financing and accountability for education, as evidenced at the GPE Financing Conference in Dakar in February.
My immediate focus will be towards strong advocacy for technical and vocational education and training (TVET), science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) education, and digital education. This I believed will create easy access for everyone to quality education and contribute meaningfully to the development of nations.
Focusing on STEM and TVET will create more employment for young people. The standard of living in The Gambia will be uplifted because young people will be able to utilize their talents and skills to create innovative systems and technologies.
From knowledge to practice: gender equality in education and safe schools
The knowledge I gained at the summit motivates me to continue to add my voice to the #NotMySchool campaign. I believed everyone’s right to education must be respected, protected and fulfilled.
No child or youth should be subjected to violence at school because of their gender. I condemn such acts and will continue to raise my voice to put an end to violence in schools and ensure a safe learning environment for all girls and boys. This way, children and young people will be able to realize their full potential and focus on learning.
I am very grateful to One World Summit for the great experience I had in The Hague. I am a bolder and more knowledgeable young leader and education advocate, and ready to put my new knowledge to use!