The power of youth in ensuring education for all
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In Nigeria, millions of young people of all ages lack access to quality education opportunities. The reasons behind this can be attributed to all sorts of diverse and complex challenges with the educational system, from low academic achievement, outdated curriculum, poor teaching methods, inadequate funding, poor access and retention, low literacy and numeracy rates, poor infrastructural support and, above all, inequity! These issues prevent many young people from acquiring the skills they need to become active citizens that contribute to the economic development of their communities and country.
As someone who grew up in an under-served, rural community, I have first-hand experience of the educational challenges that children in these areas face. When I graduated from university in 2014, I decided to try to challenge this status quo so I returned to my hometown and set up an organization called Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative (AREAi). The aim of the organization is to provide technical, educational and infrastructural support to ensure that youth are equipped with the education they need to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to contribute to the socioeconomic development of Nigeria and the global community as a whole. In just 3 years, we have directly impacted over 6,000 students in 8 schools across 4 rural communities.
Ensuring equal access to quality education for all not only provides young people with the skills they need for economic growth and prosperity, but it is also a fundamental part of all development aspirations, both locally and globally. No country can achieve sustainable economic development without substantial investment in human capital. If we are to achieve the 2030 Agenda, it is therefore vital that countries increase their efforts in ensuring quality education for every child, regardless of who they are or where they are from.
Never before has the world seen a generation of young people with such energy and enthusiasm for tackling local problems and global challenges. It is vital that they are provided with the education they need to tackle these challenges. If we fail to ensure access to education for all, and if trends continue, by 2030 more than 800 million youth will lack the basic skills for work and 200 million will never have set foot in a classroom. Young people must, and will, play a huge role in ensuring that tangible efforts are concertedly channeled through NGOs to deliver quality education for all to build a safe, secure and prosperous future for the next generation.
Olanrewaju Gideon is a young Educational Development Practitioner and Quality Education Advocate with a deep interest in redefining Africa's growth and development through education. He is the Founder of Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative and a Member of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Community.