By Pi James
To highlight the bravery of these inspiring young people, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) and UN Global Education First Initiative held an essay competition on education in crisis, receiving more than 700 submissions from around the world. Twelve of these essays were recently published in a booklet entitled: The Brightest Hope.
In the lead up to the International Day of Peace (21 September), UNICEF podcast moderator Mia Lobel spoke with two students and young essayists: Ivy Kimtai, 21, from the Mount Elgon region of Kenya and Jephthah Temona, 19, from Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.
Listen to the podcast in streaming MP3 format
Education as peace
Jephthah’s essay shares a story of violence engulfing his school: “I was in my first year of senior class, when on a sunny afternoon, a crisis broke out… Airmen and officers were moving in and out of the school compound on high alert. Neighbors turning against neighbors they’ve possibly known for years… Thick black fumes of smoke hung far away in the town.”
Jephthah said that education meant “peace” to him during this period and credits education with providing young people with choice to determine their own destiny.
“Education can give you a different path for your lives… for me education can help me choose what path I want to follow, I can choose exactly how I want my life to be, I can make a difference… education is like hope to me,” he said.
Education will “save the world”
Ivy shares similar views on education. In her essay she says school was the only place she felt safe when rebel forces attacked her community in Mount Elgon, Kenya.
Ivy’s essay recounts unthinkable violence: “They were merciless; they spared no life, not even animals… I heard about how a teacher had watched his family from a bush being slaughtered and he couldn’t do anything about it.”
In the lead up to the launch of the UN Global Sustainable Development Goals Ivy says the United Nations should focus on those places that have “problems accessing education”.
“Education is what will save the world from whichever situation, and whichever crisis,” she said.
Jephthah agrees: “Education is worth a fight.”
For more information on the essay contest visit INEE’s blog page: The Brightest Hope. International Day of Peace is 21 September. For more information on this year’s observance, please visit UN International Day of Peace webpage.
For more information on the essay contest visit INEE’s blog page: The Brightest Hope.
International Day of Peace is 21 September. For more information on this year’s observance, please visit UN International Day of Peace webpage.