The right to education has taken a setback in our times, as we struggled to establish equity and inclusion in our system, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students, especially girls and young women, are now exposed to large disparities in the contemporary education system. They are being forced to navigate environmental disasters and conflicts along with their education, resulting in devastating impacts on their future.
In response to this, the United Nations convened the Transforming Education Summit in New York City from the 16th to 19th of September 2022, providing a unique opportunity for the youth to take a seat at the table and contribute to the policies to shape their future. An extensive and diverse consultation process representing nearly half a million young people from over 170 countries and territories, the summit was a series of roundtables, speaking engagements and bilateral meetings between NGO representatives of international organisations, including our IBVM/CJ NGO, policy-makers and activists. It culminated with the adoption of the Youth Declaration on Transforming Education.
Coordinated by the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, the drafting of the Youth Declaration was predominantly a youth-led process. An estimated 450,000 young people
worldwide made their contributions, through global, in-person and online consultations to gather views, recommendations and commitments. In addition, young people self-organised grassroots conversation circles and meetings simultaneously.
The Youth Declaration highlights the urgency to address the global education crisis, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate change crisis, conflict and more. The overarching key message in the youth’s collective call is to be included and meaningfully engaged in education policy-making, and to work alongside governments, civil society and international organisations, teachers and the United Nations, to create consequential positive change that is systemic, long-term, inclusive, representative and free from any kind of discrimination. The Youth have emphatically recognised their role as agents of change in today’s time, and express solidarity with people, across and within generations, genders, sexualities, nationalities, cultures, faiths, abilities and more. With the promise of inclusivity and change, the youth recognise the need for intersectionality in our approach towards education, leaving no one behind.
It is imperative that the young people’s collective views are taken up by policy-makers to be implemented on both local and national levels. The follow-up to the Youth Declaration will be ensured through the SDG4 High-Level Steering Committee. This main body is to take the
message forward, while truly engaging the youth, not just as beneficiaries or spectators, but as active and equal partners.
Read the Youth Declaration and other information HERE.
Author: Prateeksha Shukla