Building peace in the minds of men and women

Stories from 2017: The transformative power of education

20 December 2017

From Somalia to Guatemala, Jordan to Thailand, UNESCO’s work and efforts are fuelled by inspiring stories from around the world on the transformative power of education. Behind all the facts and figures on education and the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, there are real people around the world whose fates are being altered every day by learning opportunities.


In Somalia, seventeen-year old Fardowsa is among the young women who benefitted from a literacy and life skills project implemented by UNESCO. “I am a very different person ever since I have been able to read and write,” she says. “My family trusts me with their business since I am able to calculate money and do the business transaction, as result of the knowledge I gained through this programme.” Read more

© UNESCO Islamabad

In Pakistan, seven-year-old Shehzad goes to a UNESCO-supported school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. His community in this remote part of the country has long suffered from natural disasters and internal displacement, amplifying the problems of limited access to basic services that already existed in this region. UNESCO is helping promote inclusive education in remote areas of Pakistan to ensure that children like Shehzad have access to quality education. Read more


In Kenya, a UNESCO project aims to promote health education of students and in Nairobi’s Kibera informal settlement through effective health education in schools. Linda was born and raised in Kibera, one of the largest and most densely populated areas in Kenya. “Life is so challenging here,” she says. Like many youth in her surrounding, this young woman did not get a chance to finish her secondary education because of her unintended pregnancy. She is now getting a second chance at learning. Read more

© Taweepon Kingkaew_TrueCorp

Thailand, UNESCO has been implementing a mobile literacy for out-of-school children to provide quality education for marginalized children along the Thai-Myanmar border through mobile learning and ICT devices. Thirteen-year-old Chit Ko, who’s benefited from the project, is now not only at the top of his class, but has also finished at the top of his entire state’s exams. Read more


In Jordan, a UNESCO scholarship programme is encouraging a student with disability to keep dreaming. “I see this program as a great opportunity; I can get a job after completing the course despite my health situation,” says twenty-one-year–old Hadeel. “This opportunity helped me to continue my studies which will support me in securing a job.” Read more


The same scholarship programme has also allowed Mustafa to continue his civil engineering studies. “I saw this program as a great opportunity,” says the Syrian student who arrived in Jordan in 2012. Read more

© UNESCO Abuja - Learners attend a digital literacy class in Cross River State

In Nigeria, UNESCO’s “Revitalizing Adult and Youth Literacy” Project (RAYL) established a pilot digital literacy programme to tackle the high illiteracy level in the country. The RAYL aims to provide basic literacy skills for adults and youth who have been excluded from the formal educational system. “I stopped going to school when I was in third grade,” says Atim, a young man who started taking digital literacy classes. “I can now read well, count my money and produce receipts to my customers,” he says. Read more

© UNESCO Guatemala

In Guatemala, Francisca had no choice but to leave school when reached third grade. She started working in the fields and taking care of her siblings to help her parents. Indigenous girls like Francisca, adolescents and young women will assert their right to education in two UNESCO Malala Centres in Totonicapán, which will be created as part of a new project set to start in 2018. Read more

Ushering in the New Year, UNESCO continues its mission to change people’s livelihoods and open their minds through the power of education – as it has for the last 72 years.