Can young people change the world?

Despite the Millennium Development GoalsEducation for All campaign and the efforts of the governmental programme PRODEC to reform education, the education system in Mali has only slightly improved. 

While there has been an enormous increase in school enrollment, only 73% of school-age boys and about 64% of school-age girls are enrolled in primary school. Very few manage to complete primary schooling: 63% of boys and 54% of girls (World Bank, 2012). The enrollment rates for secondary education are much lower (World Bank, 2012) and girls are often the ones who suffer for it. The quality of education is also very poor. Classrooms are overcrowded: often three pupils have to share two seats, and it’s not a rarity to find classrooms with over 100 pupils. Teachers are not adequately trained and gender and economic inequality in education persists. Drought, poverty and political crises could have caused this crise scolaire

As a young person myself, I am soon going to go to Mali to understand the role of youth in improving quality education. The last few weeks I have been trying to understand the context of the country. However, the complexity of the situation sometimes makes me feel helpless. I am reading so much and am discovering that there is so much more to know. At the same time it still feels like I know almost nothing. You can really lose yourself in all the literature. And then it’s sometimes hard to
know what the very heart of the matter is. 

However, while leafing through Duncan Green’s book ‘From Poverty to Power’ I came across this quote by Margaret Mead which really resonated with me.


This all makes me wonder: could young people really change this? Could they have a role in improving the education in Mali?  But then there’s this quote from Margaret Mead. In my mind I add the word ‘young’:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed young citizens can change the world…”

Maybe it’s not the only thing that ever has, I don’t know, but still: I do believe that young people can change the world! Or at least that little part of the world which is called Mali..

I am happy to see that Oxfam Novib also believes this.
In the My Rights,
My Voice programme
youth are encouraged to be a powerful force for
change and great work has already been done with this programme! See for
example this video.

With my research I want to truly give young people a
chance to voice their concerns and ideas, and I hope it will give Oxfam Novib
some new ideas about how to involve young people in working on a just world
without poverty.

What do
you think the role of young people could be in (social) change, or more
specifically in improving education in Mali?

Anne Souwman

Anne Souwman is
currently doing her Masters in  Education,
Socialisation and Youth Policies at Utrecht University. Within Oxfam Novib she is
working on the Young@Heart framework. She is all set to go to Mali for field research at the end of the month. 


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