By ONE Youth Delegates Pierre Jothy (France), Nana Alassane Toure (Mali), and Wadi Victoria Ben-Hirki (Nigeria)
When we think about education, images, memories and impressions come to our minds. Some will see a classroom with a blackboard, a particularly inspiring teacher. Some will remember the plight of the multiplication tables to learn by heart, or the pride of not having made any mistakes during an important recitation. Others will remember the joy they felt when their History teacher arrived in class pushing an old television and VCR on a rolling table, an overcrowded class where the students didn’t listen to anything, or their favorite games in the playground. Others will remember the sacrifices their families made to allow them to continue studying.
Our experiences are very different, and yet similar: thanks to the education we had the chance to receive, we gathered knowledge and skills that made us who we are today and allowed us to read and write these lines.
We are three young activists: two girls and one boy. Our names are Nana, Wadi, and Pierre. We are from Mali, Nigeria, and France. We are 30, 20 and 21 years old, and each one of us in our own way, in our respective countries, are activists for a better world. Today, we are part of a youth delegation traveling to Dakar to take part in the replenishment conference of the Global Partnership for Education, organized by France and Senegal, to make the voice of our generation heard. Because our generation represents the future, but also the change we want to see in the world today.
We could go on and on about what we do in life, what we study, the associations we are part of or we have created, what keeps us busy during the day, motivates us to get out of bed in the morning or keeps us awake at night.
But if we write these lines, it’s not to talk about us. Today, a few days before this international conference where all the countries concerned are coming together to celebrate education, and where the financial contributions of each donor country will be announced, we would like to tell you about the 130 million girls in the world who are not going to school.
Some of them do not go because the road they should travel to reach their school is too long. For some of them, the road is too dangerous. Some of them do not have the means to buy a uniform, or the necessary textbooks to follow the courses. Others go to school only to find themselves in classes without teachers.
There are countless reasons why girls leave school or never go to school, but none of them is acceptable.
And a status quo is not an option.
For these millions of girls in the world, education is neither a memory nor a present. But thanks to the Global Partnership for Education, it could become more than a just a hope, it could become their near future. This is why it is essential that this conference is a success and that education in the world receives the financial means it deserves. So that they also have the chance to read and write their own stories, to have beautiful memories in mind when they talk about school, to realize their dreams. And this year could be the turning point towards a real international mobilization for the right to education.