The planet’s youth demand inclusion in education decision-making, arguing they are not waiting for an invitation to transform education.
This is one of the demands echoed by world youth during the just-ended United Nations transforming education summit in New York.
In fact, they contend young people are at the forefront of driving change; pioneering innovations, mobilising our peers and communities, advocating for universal and quality education and unceasingly working from the ground up to transform education
“For too long, we have been excluded or only tokenistically included in the policy and decision-making processes affecting our lives, livelihoods and futures. In transforming education, we demand that our voices be heard, our lived experiences valued, our demands addressed, and our efforts, leadership and agency acknowledged,” the world youth collectively demanded.
“There was a huge call for the youth power and voices to be heard. We are back now. There were various resolutions taken. One of the key issues is financing. We need to find the right modalities of financing education. We looked at a youth declaration with 11 demands from member states.
“About seven calls were for action, while the rest calls for urgent consideration by heads of state. Among the demands by the youth include comprehensive sexual education and that young people should be actively involved in decision-making as equal partners,” said Sanet Steenkamp, executive director of
Steenkamp, who formed part of the Namibian delegation to the just-ended UN Education Summit, yesterday confirmed all discussions were youth-led, with ministers of education sharing a platform and finding solutions through dialogue.
Accompanying education minister Anna Nghipondoka to New York, Steenkamp reported they had successful engagements.
About 130 countries attended the education summit, which aimed to reboot education systems and offer hope to children of the world for a better future.
The youth are demanding to be listened to and for priority to be given to education in each country.
The youth expressed their intent to achieve these goals – not as passive beneficiaries but as partners and collaborators every step of the way.
Steenkamp noted upon their return this week, they had meetings to revisit all the recommendations from the second 2011 national education conference.
The meeting also aimed to revisit the recommendations derived from the just-ended UN transforming education summit and see how they can be used to craft the implementation plan before its submitted to Cabinet.
“We are all aware that at least 64.3% of 10-year-olds cannot read and understand a simple story. It’s the same elsewhere as in the case of Namibia. We are motivated. The outcomes of our national education conference, and its recommendations and what we saw other countries doing and heard really shows Namibia is on top of what we are doing in terms of education,” Steenkamp indicated.
According to her, literacy is a high-priority area that drives literacy in Namibia.
Therefore, she calls for more investment funding for literacy.
She said it is time Namibia starts investing much more in funding and infrastructure as well as human resources in terms of pre-primary and early childhood development.
Equally, Steenkamp stressed digitalisation of education is of key importance.
She says there is a need for targeted funding to ensure schools have the basic assistive devices, such as smart televisions to be used along with the chalkboard to show functions, for example, through YouTube. Steenkamp said some schools in Namibia are doing this successfully, as many countries are moving away from technological devices for children and teachers.
“The focus has moved to what can be used at the school level, which is most cost-effective and brings value to education. We need to have a mind shift about this thing of saying education gets the highest budget. Yes, it is correct, but how do we spend our budget? So, the issue of efficiency and being more accountable as a country and as a ministry is important as to how we spend the budget. We need better funding modalities,” she maintained.
Steenkamp expressed education should not be seen as an expenditure but as an investment from all stakeholders, such as parents, the government and the community at large.
With this first-of-its-kind youth declaration, the youth of the world presented their common vision for transforming education.
It is the outcome of an extensive consultation process with nearly half a million youth in all diversity and from over 170 countries and territories.
This Youth Declaration is founded on, and is a continuation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Sustainable Development Goal 4.