OUR DEMANDS HAVE NOT CHANGED-YOUTHS
- 4 Articles
- Age 25
By Aniebiet Ubon, Esquire
“Yesterday is gone tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today. Let us begin...” – Mother Teresa
“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
First of all, I am glad I belong to today’s generation of youth; the largest generation of youth the world has ever known. (1)
It is interesting and inspiring to see more and more youth join the discourse, and crusades; they are beginning to sacrifice everything by their turning point decisions and actions to change their dwindling fortunes (I do not mean to disparage the efforts of our predecessors).
The neglect and social deprivation today’s average youth is faced with did not begin today. It dates back to generations of ago. It is probably rooted in antiquity yet has worsened with each generation of youth solely because we have had more of promises instead of actions clearly structured to include youth participation, integration and development.
Unless world leaders and governments of nations take our voices into account and follow-through with programmes aimed at rounded youth development, surely our situation will not change, governments will remain as they are), we will keep running round in circles, and be riveted to this particular circumstance for more generations to come.
In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Recently, I had the opportunity of speaking to children at a public school on what schooling meant to them. Here is what they had to say:
“My mom said I have to attend and complete schooling if I want to be rich, and she is always right.” – David, 8
“I want to become a doctor when I grow up, so I can help save lives but first I have to finish schooling” – Ini, 9
At this point the words: “They shoot at us and bomb our school” credited to a Syrian child, began to replay in my head, I became devastated, I had a tear in my eye, I could not continue taking their thoughts any further. However, I switched to taking my own thoughts. What about the millions out-of-school children across the world who have similar or even bigger dreams? What about the millions kids who are in dire need of an education to realize their full capabilities?
How about the 10.5 million Nigerian counterparts who will not go to school today? In fact, Nigeria accounts for the highest out-of-school population in the world.
What about the millions of children in Nigeria, Pakistan (which ranks the second with the highest out-of-school children in the world), India, Afghanistan and across the world? According to Global Education First Initiative:
“28.5 million primary school age children out of school in conflict-affected countries, 12.6 million live in Sub-Saharan Africa, 5.3 million live in South and West Asia, and 4 million live in the Arab states. The vast majority – 95% - live in lower and lower middle income countries. Girls, who make up 55% of the total, are the worst affected, as they are often victims of rape and other sexual violence that accompanies armed conflicts”
What about the 31 million girls across the world who are out-of-school? (2) Everyday, 39,000 girls younger than 18 are forced to get married, but education is freedom (3).Two-thirds of the worlds 880 million illiterate adults are women.  Girls and women are the worst sufferers. What about the 215 million kids involved in child labour, which deprives them of education?  What about the 71 million young million people including half of all adolescents in low-income countries that are receiving no post-primary education? 
What about the 250 million children who cannot read, write or count well, even those with at least four years in school, 
“School attendance should open pathways of earning and discovery, but too often it does not. Millions of children go through school and come out without basic literacy and numeracy. Education is ultimately judged by what people learn. Many students around the world are banking their future on poorly trained, weakly motivated teachers without enough books on basics to facilitate their learning. This is a grave disservice not only to the students themselves but to the parents who sacrifice to support them and the country whose futures depend on them” GLOBAL EDUCATION FIRST INITIATIVE.
In line with Article 26 of the University Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and every other human rights treaties, convention and resolutions young people deserve not just education, but qualitative education irrespective of our sex, religion, race, language, status, etc. Education is the fundamental human right of every young person. All states have ratified at least one, and 80% of states have ratified four or more of the core human rights treaties reflecting consent of states which creates legal obligations for them and giving concrete expression to universality.  Why then does the number of out-of-school children and illiterate youths continue to increase?
Insincerity: insincerity on the part of governments. As soon as governments begin to show concern and commitment, illiteracy would be phased out. Education is imperative. A life without education is meaningless, because education brings self awareness, it enlightens. It gives one the prospects of a bright future.
We deserve to be of service to humanity. We need opportunities to realize our potentials, doors to boardrooms need to be opened to participate, and our views taken into account in the whole process to redesigning our futures.
On June 12, a delegation of about 500 youths from over 75 countries led by Malala Yousafzai (The 16 year old Pakistani teenage activist) congregated at the United Nations headquarters for the first time ever asking world leaders to create opportunities for us, to serve our needs and the protection of our right to not just education but qualitative education, amongst others. Even though I was not present at the UN, I am glad I appended my signature to Malala’s petition. I am equally glad 1.4 million signatures were collated within few weeks.
It is a new beginning for young persons, it is the beginning of a movement to ensure governments are accountable, it is a new movement to ensure our needs are taken into consideration, we deserve to sit at the round table and contribute to discussions. It is our future, so we deserve to take part in the creation of road maps that will eventually transform our lives.
On the other hand, it raises our hopes that the UN has a new momentum for youth development and that they are working on helping youth in progressing, and becoming opportunities, said Ahmed Alhendawi (UN SPECIAL ENVOY ON YOUTH), “Our demands have not changed, we need world leaders and governments to pull their weight behind the United Nations. There is no going back.” (9)
I thank Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General who has shown extreme commitment to ensuring every child is enrolled in school, and stays in school until completion, and while in school gets quality education. Special thanks to the United Nations, Special Envoy on Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi for his unwavering dedication to youth development. I thank each and every person that has been relentless in our struggle to phase out illiteracy and make life meaningful for young persons: Malala Yousefzai, Sarah Brown, Heidi Green, fellow youths and non youths (both those at the forefront and those working tirelessly behind the scene), the United Nations, UN FOUNDATION, Youth Assembly at the UN, Global Education First Initiative, UN Youth, A world at school, Girls Globe, UNICEF, The Girl Effect, UN Development, websites, blog sites, writers, researchers, speakers and even the readers I appreciate all your efforts and I beseech you all to continue to support our course. OUR DEMANDS HAVE NOT CHANGED.
(1) Ying Ying Shang, “On malala Day, New generation of youth demands education” available at http://m.huffpost.com. Accessed July 16, 2013.
(2) Eleanor Goldberg, “read through the 7 alarming education facts and find out how you can help” available at http:// m.huffpost.com.
(6) GLOBAL EDUCATION FIRST INITIATIVE, date accessed: 23 July, 2013, web.
(8) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/whatar... what are human rights? Accessed 25 July, 2013.
(9) Heidi Green, Teaching Conflict transformation to youth-Preparing the world’s future leaders. Web. Last accessed 10 August, 2015.
Aniebiet Ubon, LL. B(Hons), is an independent researcher, writers, speaker and commentator with particular interest in Human Rights, sociolegal issues, legal education, peace building, youth development and issues respecting qualitative education for young persons. He is the founder of the QUELL INITIATIVE. He is on twitter as, @aniebiet11.