Youth activists share their views on the importance of education in laying the foundation for a peaceful society.
NEW YORK, United States of America, 12 August 2013 – International Youth Day is celebrated on 12 August every year to raise awareness about issues affecting young people and to celebrate their achievements.
To commemorate the day, UNICEF podcast moderator Alex Goldmark spoke with three young activists about their understanding of peace and how education can help them build peaceful and democratic communities.
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“Without peace, there is nothing good that can be done.” – Nakia Joyce, Ugandan youth activist
Nakia Joyce is a young journalist from Uganda. She grew up in Karamoja, a region with a recent history of political turmoil, humanitarian crisis and insecurity. Like Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan and other girls fighting for recognition of educational rights, Nakia has been the target of violence. A few years ago, she was attacked on her way to school. She lost two of her friends, but she managed to escape safely. Since then, she has become an activist campaigning for peace and girls’ education.
To Nakia and her community, peace means a great deal. “Without peace, there is nothing good that can be done – for instance, in education”, she says.
She explains that local disarmament policies have improved stability in the region and have thereby improved access to education. In return, education can bring peace, as well.
“Schools can be a place for peacebuilding,” Nakia says. “Through education, youth can play a bigger role by engaging other partners on board.”
Growing up in a remote village in Punjab, Pakistan, Mohammad Umair is the first amongst thousands of his villagers to attain a higher education. Furthermore, he fought for his sisters’ education and through donations, constructed a secondary school for girls in his village.
Lack of security and regular attacks on school are robbing Pakistani children, especially girls, from their right to education. “Why are they [schools] targeted, because the extremist and the Taliban know that if they eliminate a school, where there is a potential of bringing about any change, no child will be able to go there. And when no child is able to go there what is the second opportunity or the second available option for a parent who is interested to send this child to school?” For Mohammad it is important that schools teach students to think logically so that they can make logical choices and act on a more rational basis.
“Human rights are not just for a selected few.” – Christina Ramsay, British youth activist
Christina Ramsay is a final-year student at Croydon College in the United Kingdom and a fearless rights activist. Living in the UK, Christina experiences peace differently, she says.
“Peace would be every child going to school. For example, children with disability are quite forgotten,” she says. “So peace would be eradicating poverty and things like that”.
According to Christina, a way education can bring peace is by teaching students about human rights.
“It needs to be embedded in the curriculum for us to know our human rights, because I didn’t even know my human rights when I was younger,” she says. “It shouldn’t be just a selected few to know about their human rights.”
Story by Rudina Vojovda