Liveblogging: UN Youth Assembly Day 2 – Education = Peace and Development

The next panel is about education – huzzah! Obviously something I was looking forward to. The first speaker is Dr. Cream Wright, Chief of Education at UNICEF. He talks about how it is important to give children a basic education – that doesn’t necessarily mean building more nurseries, but giving children the opportunity to learn enough to function in life. Again it’s mostly factual and statistical, which I kind of blocked out of my head. (well I am tired…)

Next up is Esther Hyneman, part of Women for Afghan Women. While she sets up, one delegate asks about governments that don’t fully support educated people. That question gets put on hold while Esther starts. She describes her organization as one that helps empower Afghan women on claiming their human rights. Over 90% of Afghan women are illiterate. She groups everything into three ideas: think about women, go at the grassroots level, ans start strong. Again, I didn’t really pay much attention (it was mainly what their program does).

The final speaker is Andy Cunningham, cofounder of WISER, an initiative to build a girls’ boarding school in Muhuru Bay in Kenya. “Oyo orore!” He gets us to get up and DANCE. At least that’s gotten me a bit awake. In their tribal language, “Oyo orore” is hello, “iva nade” is how are you, “arimabear” is I’m fine. Or something like that. They even gave him a stool to stand on when making his speech…even though he’s over 6 foot tall. Heh.

WISER is 95% youth run. It’s been in Muhuru Bay 5 years, but only started fundraising 7 months ago – and already they have half a million dollars. Andy quotes Bono saying that the world lacks storytellers, and adds on that the world lacks people listening to storytellers. He notes that while Kenya is making strides to universal primary schooling, women do not get secondary education. They also become the “first harvest” – forced marriages for dowry. They’ve also been abused and molested, and no girl has graduated high school. The situation is really quite dire.

He shows us a young woman who is the first woman in Muhuru Bay to graduate from college (she went to a private school outside the area). She has shown great initiative by coming back and helping her people – none of the men who went on to college ever returned. The community and WISER have come together to help support young women like her to go on and get educated.

Andy gives a plan for how you want to make a difference in the world. First, you need a business plan. Not just a mission and vision, but also a good business plan with an executive summary. Next, make a website for your cause. Also use YouTube to put up a promotional video for your cause. If you’re still in university, get them to support you by having a class for your cause. Universities tend to be non-profit, so they can sponsor you and get tax help too. Also have innovative fundraising methods. Some of their campaigns are the WISER 100 Club and a Furnish A School campaign, and they concentrated on the top 5 places for grants – they got 4. Their priorities are students, teachers, curriculum, community center, health, utilities, architecture, intersession programming, recruitment, and volunteering. While not all of these tips are important or appropriate for every venture in every country (especially in Malaysia where not all universities are non-profit and non-profit status is tricky), it is still very useful to hear about how a fellow youth-related initiative got the ball rolling. It’s interesting to see that they are also going beyond books and now concentrating on movies and multimedia – I still feel books are crucially important (you don’t need as much technology to read) but we should also diversify our methods to reach out. When having sanitary pads can mean having access to education for a month and a half…every little bit counts.

They seem really organised and have sorted out all sorts of plans for people to get involved. It’s great to see a young person making a MASSIVE impact, in a world where young people don’t get enough respect. It’s certainly very inspiring and I’m already racing with ideas for my own projects!

Model UN is next!

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