Building peace in the minds of men and women

Day 2: Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), Youth Advocacy Group (YAG)



“Education is a life saver. It saved my life.” GEFI YAG member Chernor Bah was a refugee who knows first hand the transformative power of education in crisis.

Sharing the moving personal experience of his refugee childhood on the Education in Conflict and Crisis panel, as well as the recent experiences of educational crisis due to Ebola in his country Sierra Leone, Chernor concluded that “Education shouldn’t just be included in crisis response, it is the crisis response.” Our community has to be prepared to ensure children and young people continue to access quality and inclusive education through all forms of disasters, he added.

The second day of the World Education Forum saw the GEFI YAG being joined by Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi at the launch of the #DrawDisability exhibition. #DrawDisability raises the awareness of children and young people from around the world about the concepts of disability and inclusive education. The campaign allows children and young people to become active global citizens, as they are given the opportunity to express their thoughts about an important issue - disability and inclusion. The exhibition puts into action Kailash Satyarthi’s words that in order “to ensure quality education for ALL children; inclusion, equity and quality MUST go hand in hand.”

Later in the afternoon, GEFI YAG member Anna Susarenco spoke about why comprehensive sexuality education is important for young people on the Healthy bodies, bright minds panel. Advocating for the mainstreaming of comprehensive sexuality education in schools, Anna, an experienced peer educator, said “We know that peer education works, but it's not enough. We need sexuality education in the school curriculum.” The panel brought very dynamic voices onto the stage including the Minister of Education from Zambia who shared his country’s innovative approaches to mainstreaming sexuality education, and a representative from YMCA Canada on the role of civil society and faith based leaders in helping support the complex issue of sexuality education. The panel was stimulating as it brought together different stakeholders to discuss the issues holistically and thoroughly.

During the World Education Forum, participants have seen many brochures and print-outs of different visions for education in the next 15 years. One of them has a special value - the 2015 NGO Forum Declaration, as it is the outcome of the 1.5 day NGO Forum, which took place prior to the World Education Forum. Civil society organisations came from all across the World to debate until late hours and eventually reach a consensus on how civil society envisages education by 2030.

Key points raised by civil society include: “We need to have a more ambitious and holistic set of indicators”, and “Clearer commitments are needed to ensure all public money is spent on public education and is not supporting or subsiding for-profit provision in any way.” As governments express their visions at the closing day of the Forum tomorrow, it is very important to get inputs from the Declaration of the civil society, which will be an important partner in fulfilling the next educational agenda.

The post-2015 education goals must be the product of an authentic consultation process where all the sectors in the community are involved and are given the opportunity to express what they really need. Another important document, is The Framework for Action. It will be really important that it acknowledges the importance of authentically involving the marginalized sectors in society, especially those with disabilities, those from indigenous communities, and those affected by conflicts and disasters. However, what is a framework without actions? The challenge has always been how to put these concepts into practice especially after the UN General Assembly in September 2015.