With climate crisis around the corner, UNESCO youth advocate pushes for cash to educate the world

Kenisha Arora could feel the magic in the air onstage at a recent United Nations meeting in Paris, where a global contingent of young people pushed world leaders to invest more in education.

It could have been the fact that the Ivorian band Magic System had just played the song of the same nameBut the medical student from Mississauga, Ontario nonetheless felt the determination of young people around the world pressing to turn their requests into firm commitments from world leaders and then into concrete action.

“There are so many inequalities in the world, there are so many things that break my heart, but I really hope that it is us, the human beings, who can change the way this world looks,” said Arora, 19.

Kenisha Arora addresses delegates, including education ministers, at a previous UN summit in Paris. Photo provided by Kenisha Arora

The temporary closure of schools before the pandemic meant that the vast majority of the world’s children, more than 1.6 billion of them, lost access to learning at some point, including hundreds of millions who depended on school for necessities such as meals, speakers at the political forum said. . Those who stayed away from school the longest were also the least likely to return.

Speakers at the previous summit of education ministers and senior civil servants in Paris on June 28-30 called for a transformation of education systems to put the needs of students at the center. the UN forum awaits to get national governments back on track to meet the 2030 goals Sustainable Development Goal No. 4: quality education, which it says anchors the 17 goals to leave no one behind.

To deliver on that, the forum wants governments to allocate at least 4 to 6 percent of their gross domestic product, or 15 to 20 percent of public spending, as an investment in education, and most nations are expected to wealthy contribute to the cost in low-income countries.

Most of the global spending on education occurs in high-income countries, which only increases inequalities. Graphic via UNESCO

While Canadian students have been affected by the pandemic, Arora said students from other countries faced bigger challenges. Contemporaries of hers from Sierra Leone, Kenya and Malawi raised concerns about access to education during the pandemic, she said, “not even overcoming digital learning, but just accessing education itself.”

Once everyone has access to education, he said, the next big global goal is to make education relevant to today’s challenges, so that young people can get to work solving the world’s problems. Better education would include helping “young people address climate action and transform climate literacy into climate action, and (work out) what that looks like,” Arora said.

The world needs more money directed at learning to create prosperity, and needs to make sure it also reduces inequality, says @KenishaArora at a UN meeting.

For Canada, there is a need for more professional development for teachers so that they are equipped to equip students with the skills for the jobs of tomorrow, the Western University medical student said, and to reduce the gaps that make post-secondary education unattainable for some. people.

As UNESCO’s youth representative for North America and Europe, Arora is also the sole youth voice on the UN’s high-level steering committee on education. She describes it as “a great journey” for a young person to get a seat at the table with the president of the World Bank, the executive directors of UNICEF and UNESCO, and heads of state.

She will work with the Canadian government in the run-up to the heads of state meeting in New York, hosting online consultations for young people to share their views on how to shape the future of education and what transformation could mean. of learning.

Taking place during the 77th United Nations General Assembly, the Transforming Education Summit aims to mobilize political ambition to revitalize education after two years of pandemic-related disruption and reimagine it for the future.

Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / National Observer Canada

Leave a Comment