“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

– Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, 1993 Nobel Peace Prize laureate

“There are no immovable barriers to education.”

– Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

Education is the key to human development, and provides the ladder for an individual to achieve social mobility, thus breaking the shackles of poverty and deprivation. We lie to ourselves if we argue that the barriers to education are so set in stone that they cannot be challenged. If we, together with our policy makers, teachers, professors, and parents are willing to invest in paving the way for a world where every child enjoys the basic right to education, then the journey towards that goal might be strewn with challenges and road blocks, but as Paulo Coelho said: “It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”[1]

Education is being made a priority in the post-2015 development agenda[2]. Achieving universal primary education is one of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Nivashini, a high school student from India and participant on ‘The World We Want’ initiative provided a helpful insight into a teenager’s perspective on the importance of education in today’s day and age. She enthused that “education is the closest thing to magic in the world” and added that “nothing can transform a person’s life the way education can by instilling confidence and gifting people with a voice.”[3] Education equips individuals with the ability and resources necessary to take greater control of the circumstances of their lives and enables them to better shape, rather than merely endure the changes, fragilities and vulnerabilities that they have to cope with on a daily basis, especially for people who live in poor communities.

As a newly appointed Global Youth Ambassador 2014-2015 for A World at School, I want to call attention to the 57 million children around the world who are currently being denied their human right to an education.

I am joined in this call to action by 500 other young advocates for global education. Together, we make up the Global Youth Ambassadors group – launched on April 1st 2014, by the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon and the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown.

Shazia and Kainat are two of my fellow Ambassadors. Along with Malala Yousafzai, they were shot by the Taliban for going to school in Pakistan just over a year ago. Their story, and that of so many other of the youth advocates I have joined forces with, inspires me to stand up for the millions of children that are kept out of school because of poverty, early marriage, child labour and different forms of discrimination.

As firm believers that education is the answer to the greatest challenges we face as a society, we ask for your help in urging leaders to raise budgets, build schools, train teachers and improve learning for all children. It has been shown that we could lift over 170 million people out of poverty simply by teaching every child in low-income countries basic reading skills.

So why are we not making this a reality? In Mauritius, there are still children who do not have access to education due to their family’s economic situation or because of barriers like poverty, ignorance and a lack of information about the educational opportunities available in local communities. Unless we revert current trends, we will not even achieve universal primary education before 2086. So Join A World at School in our campaign to get every child into school learning. Support our calls to action and get all the latest news on global education online, on Twitter (@aworldatschool) and on Facebook.

[1]P. Coelho, The Alchemist

[2]‘Making Education a Priority in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Report of the Global Thematic Consultation on Education in the Post 2015 Development Agenda’, UNESCO Bangkok, September 2013

[3]‘The World We Want’, https://www.worldwewant2015.org

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