Building a Network and Moving Mountains

At the 6th  Global Campaign for Education (GCE) World Assembly in Kathmandu in November 2018, 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 when youth meet mountains can be moved.

This year, from the 27th until the 30th of April youth advocates once again met. 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 days, youth proved that we are more than ready and willing to face education challenges.   When youth are united, time is the only external restriction.

United in our differences

Throughout the years, inequality and discrimination have been on the rise, attempting to divide people. These frightening tendencies challenge our democracies, demonising the other, and tell us that we are all 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 as previously claimed. 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 of our societies. Youth wish to contribute and learn in the process. Youth are a powerful  voice, which should not only be included because it is a ‘hip buzzword’. Youth hold the power, the resources and the necessary knowledge to affect the change the world is calling for.

 

Youth at the heart of a better tomorrow

Others say that youth 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 youth are capable of understanding the nuances, asking the necessary questions and offering possible solutions.

Youth will live and lead the future and hence are  co-creators of societies today and tomorrow. Youth are capable 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.

Youth are already doing incredible work all over the world. United, youth are  even stronger to carry over the responsibilities the previous generations were unable to carry. Youth set new standards and suggest new directions.

 

Throwing down a challenge

Now we will challenge the “adults”. Will they support and enable youth activism or will they try to block and tokenise 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 youth voices represented at the National, Regional, and Global level.

Global Campaign for Education took the first important step to ensure genuine and meaningful youth engagement at all levels of the movement. At this strategic meeting, youth took the second step. Together, as a global movement for education, we are now ready to work across age and geographic distances to work together and ensure the fundamental right to education is fully realised.

 

Authors:

Daniel Altman is the first representative of a youth-led organisation to be elected in the GCE Board.  Originally from Israel, Daniel is an Executive Committee member of the European Students Union. A former Chairperson of the “Shenkar Engineering Design Art” Students’ Union college in Tel-Aviv, Daniel holds B.Sc of Industrial Engineering and Management with specialisation in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Creative leadership. He currently studies a Masters of Industrial Engineering and Management.

 

Frederikke Høgsgaard is the Danish representative from the Danish National Coalition for Education and member of the Danish National Commission and the executive committee of UNESCO. She is a masters student in International Development Studies and Global Studies and are representing Danish students of higher education internationally through the Danish National Union of Students (DSF). This include, beside above mentioned, the European Students Union (ESU) and in the global partnership with Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU).



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