The theme of International Youth Day 2019, “Transforming education”, highlights efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves. Rooted in Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” , International Youth Day 2019 will examine how Governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education so that it becomes a powerful tool to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Inclusive and accessible education is crucial to achieving sustainable development and can play a role in the prevention of conflict. Indeed, education is a ‘development multiplier’ as it plays a pivotal role in accelerating progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, be it poverty eradication, good health, gender equality, decent work and growth, reduced inequalities, action on climate or peaceful societies. Education should lead to relevant and effective learning outcomes, with the content of school curricula being fit for purpose, not only for the 4th industrial revolution and the future of work but also for the opportunities and challenges – that rapidly changing social contexts bring.
The crucial role that quality education plays in youth development is well recognized. In addition, comprehensive youth development benefits society-at-large. However, what is less known is the fact that young people themselves are active champions of inclusive and accessible education. Youth-led organizations, as well as individual youth, together with various stakeholders and Governments, can work together to concretely transform education so that it becomes a fundamental tool both for sustainable development and for the full inclusion of various social groups. For example, our youth-led organization transforming education via lobbying and advocacy, partnerships with educational institutions, the development of complementary training programs, etc.
In that spirit, a multitude of stakeholders including youth-led organizations are also coming together to work with us toward greater access to education; addressing barriers for youth on the basis of gender, identity, abilities and other criteria; updating school curricula to include practical lessons about peace, justice and the environment and climate change, among many other areas in the campaign; Our Future, Our Say.
Our Future Our Say is a means of mutual communication between young people and decision makers in order to implement the best education and employment policies. This strategy is a starting step into our efforts to make young people’s voices heard in the policy-shaping process.
Statistics such as only 10% of people have completed upper secondary education in low-income countries, 40 % of the global population is not taught in a language they speak or fully understand, and over 75 % of secondary school age refugees are out of school, remind us that significant transformations are still required to make education systems more inclusive and accessible. In addition, indigenous youth, young people with disabilities, young women, youth from various marginalized groups, etc. are facing additional challenges to accessing education that respects their diverse needs and abilities as well as reflects and embraces their unique realities and identities.
Therefore, International Youth Day 2019: Transforming education will birth Our Future Our Say, a campaign that will highlight good practices and lessons learned in efforts to ensure education is inclusive and accessible as well as the road ahead for partners in this endeavour.
The official commemoration to celebrate International Youth Day 2019 will take place online and would be held around early August 2019. It will be organized by the Hire the Youth in collaboration with the United Nations Youth Network and would consider the social development aspects of transforming education to be inclusive and accessible. The event will also seek broad participation online, including from youth organizations, and academia.