Youth Panel

The Education Commission’s Youth Panel connects the voices of young people from across the world with the Commission’s work, catalyzes support for its activities, and promotes the Agenda for Action. Together the members of the Youth Panel have co-authored a Global Call to Action for Education, which outlines the key recommendations for the international community to undertake in order to invest in the full potential of each and every young person.

 

Co-Chairs

Kennedy Odede

Kennedy Odede

(Kenya), Co-founder and CEO of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO)

Bio

Kennedy is an internationally recognized social entrepreneur, a New York Times best-selling author and the co-founder of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). SHOFCO combats extreme poverty and gender inequality by linking free schools for girls to a set of high-value, holistic community services for all. A former street child who lived most of his life in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums, he founded SHOFCO with savings from his $1 per day factory job. SHOFCO’s programs will collectively serve over 76,000 individuals in 2015. The organization is scaling up across Kenya’s slums with a model that links free schools for girls to holistic community services for all, currently focused on the Kibera and Mathare slums. He and his wife recently released their New York Times best-selling memoir Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in An African Slum.
Rosemarie Ramitt

Rosemarie Ramitt

(Guyana), Advocate for youth with disabilities; visually impaired Leonard Cheshire Disability Young Voices member; teacher trainee at the Cyril Potter College of Education

Bio

Rosemarie had a normal childhood until her second year at secondary school. What started suddenly as severe headaches eventually developed into rapid vision loss and a diagnosis of Leveitis which forced her to leave school because there was no accommodation for her visual impairment. Rosemarie remained hopeful because she had no previous history of eye complications and the opthalmologists promised her a successful recovery. However, months turned into years and caused her to fall into a depressive state–she felt she had lost her identity because everyone pitied her and saw her as someone different.

 

 

In 2012, at age sixteen, Rosemarie joined the Guyana Society for the Blind and Young Voices Guyana. She was part of the largest and first group of blind persons in the Caribbean to electronically complete the Caribbean Secondary Examinations. In 2014, she graduated at the top of her class and applied to the Cyril Potter College of Education where she is currently a final year teacher trainee majoring in English with a Science minor.

Rosemarie has traveled widely to represent and advocate for equal rights for those with disabilities. She strives for success in order to pave the way for all persons with disabilities.

Panelists

Sanaya Bharucha

Sanaya Bharucha

(India), Manager, Student Leadership, Teach For India

Bio

The youngest of three daughters born into a Zoroastrian family, Sanaya has always held a deep belief in the power of youth to change the world. In high school, Sanaya was invited by the government of Rajasthan to study previously unexplored areas of the Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary. Building off her learning and passion, and while still in college, Sanaya began to lead environmental awareness camps for youth across India. Over six years, she worked with more than 100 schools and colleges and 1500 individuals all of whom are now lifelong advocates for environmental sustainability. In 2009, Sanaya was a Fellow in the pioneering cohort of Teach For India. Since then, she has served in several leadership positions at Teach For India, helping to build the organization from the ground up. Over the last eight years, she has worked passionately towards a holistic education and equality for the disenfranchised members of society by playing the role of teacher, coach, manager, trainer and musical director. Sanaya is currently working towards the ambitious vision of developing 10,000 Student Leaders across India who will find their voice and their greatest potential. The students will leverage this to advocate for and create change in the educational opportunities for a further 100,000 children across India.
Dr. Naglaa Fathy

Dr. Naglaa Fathy

(Egypt), General practitioner doctor; A World At School Global Youth Ambassador focused on education development in slum areas and women’s issues

Bio

Naglaa was appointed a Global Youth Ambassador for Egypt in 2014 and has been working on education development in slum areas and supporting women’s issues. In recognition of her community development projects, she was recently selected to be a Peace Ambassador for the Middle East. Naglaa’s strong belief that everyone can contribute towards helping our communities build a better future led her to found Team “GYAT” – a youth organization that strives to empower communities and develop a united world. Naglaa’s personal journey through hard times to become who she is today has inspired her to advocate for a quality education for all and human rights all over the world.
Hellen Griberg

Hellen Griberg

(Zambia and Norway), Theirworld Project Assistant; A World At School Global Youth Ambassador

Bio

Hellen, 24, is an education advocate and Global Youth Ambassador for A World at School. Born in Zambia, and adopted and raised in Norway, Hellen knew she wanted to fight for children’s rights to education after a visit to her birthplace Zambia. At the age of 15, she was selected to join Plan Norway’s Youth Advisory Board and worked to raise awareness of issues affecting children worldwide. Since then, Hellen has worked with children and youth in Zambia and India, written an article on youth engagement and organized events with a focus on girls’ education.

In 2014, Hellen joined A World at School as a Global Youth Ambassador. Her role as a youth ambassador has been recognized by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Last year she succeeded in getting Prime Minister Solberg and former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard to sign the #UpForSchool Petition, a youth-led petition which asks world leaders to prioritize education. Not long after, Hellen was invited to speak at the Oslo Summit on Education for Development where she urged world leaders to take action to get more children into school. She also had the opportunity to speak to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about the global education funding gap. Hellen will continue her advocacy work until she sees every child in school.

Giorgio Jackson

Giorgio Jackson

(Chile), National Deputy elected in Santiago District; former leader of Chile’s student movement

Bio

Giorgio is one of the few representatives in Chile’s Congress under 30 years old. In 2011, student demonstrations demanded urgent changes in Chile’s educational system. Under the slogan “free, quality public education,” Giorgio led those massive protests, full of passion and ideas.

But marching wasn’t enough. Having finished his IT engineering studies, he was elected as a National Deputy and founded a new political party. Since taking office, Giorgio has driven initiatives for lowering the representative’s salaries (currently the highest in the OECD); strengthened controls of undue influences of money in politics; advocated against the simplistic view of incarceration as a solution for crime; and, most importantly, continues to work towards equal access to education.

What keeps him up late at night is the development of human knowledge, the opportunities that technologies give to democratize it, and its conflict with the current intellectual property laws. Technology also has a relevant role to play in education, not only as a gadget, but also as a way of developing critical and creative thought.

Giorgio’s ultimate goal is to use new and creative instruments to empower people by giving them real tools to participate in public debate, and ensuring equality for all citizens from birth. 

Benedict Joson

Benedict Joson

(Philippines), Huffington Post education blogger

Bio

Benedict is a Global Youth Ambassador for A World at School and an American of Filipino-descent. Most recently, he helped launch The Philippines Foundation to support sustainable development efforts in his native country. As a proud New Yorker, he contributes to the capacity-building of his home’s underserved communities and youth populations. With an education from Hunter College of the City University of New York, he holds true to its motto, “Mini Cura Future” – the care of the future is ours.
Mohamed Khalil Liouane

Mohamed Khalil Liouane

(Tunisia), Student activist; coordinator of the world’s largest BIL conference

Bio

Mohamed is an 18-year-old student. Despite his young age, he is an accomplished activist in Kairouan and in Tunisia. Trained in leadership, public speaking, project management, design and photography, he coordinated the biggest BIL conference in the world with more than 750 participants. He has organized other BIL conferences and events such as Ignite, Podcamps and Instameetings. Khalil is also a founder of the Mathematics Club in Kairouan and was selected to participate in the Mathematical Olympiad and Programming Olympiad in Tunisia. He has participated multiple times in the International Championship of Mathematical and Logical Games in Paris. 
Ramon Montano

Ramon Montano

(USA), Co-founder of Thinking Indigenous

Bio

Ramon is a motivated, young indigenous man from the Kickapoo, Kumeyaay and Pa’Ipai tribal nations. He is very passionate about education, youth development, indigenous human rights and world peace. Currently, Ramon is completing his Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and expects to graduate in the summer of 2018 with his California teaching credentials. He also works in the School and Student Support Services Office for the King Chavez Preparatory Academy in San Diego, California.

Ramon aspires to become an educator and considers himself a young advocate for parent, family and community engagement. He hopes to one day open his own charter school, work with UNICEF, and pursue a Masters in Education, a Ph.D. in International Law and Human Rights, and a Juris Doctorate in Educational Policy and Federal Indian Law.

He is the co-founder of Thinking Indigenous, a newly established non-profit organization working towards paving the way for indigenous youth worldwide. Ramon also serves as a Global Youth Ambassador for A World at School and as the Commissioner for Indigenous Youth Affairs for the Indigenous Democracy Defense Organization. He has participated in various UN Conferences and the Global Education Youth Advocacy Training by the Global Campaign for Education. Ramon was also invited to speak at the launch of the Congressional International Basic Education Caucus. 

Francine Muyumba

Francine Muyumba

(Democratic Republic of Congo), President of the Pan African Youth Union

Bio

Francine is the first female president of the Pan African Youth Union (PYU), the official youth body of the African Union (AU) representing all African youth.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts honors degree from the University of Namibia and is currently studying Law at the Protestant University of Kinshasa. At the University of Namibia, she was very active in student politics and was elected the first female President of the Student Representative Council. She also served as the Acting Country Coordinator of the United Nations Association in Namibia. She has worked closely with the UN, the Commonwealth, and the AU on youth-related matters, and also served on the World Federation of Democratic Youth representing the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Francine was elected President of the PYU in 2014. During her tenure, she has revitalized the organization and strengthened the relationship with the African Union Commission to help bring African youth to the center of decision-making. She serves as the primary representative on youth issues to the AU and all associated Heads of State and Government, and is currently working on establishing continental youth development funds. Francine is a passionate peace and education advocate and sees youth entrepreneurship as vital to job creation. She has discussed African youth issues with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and works closely with the UN Special Envoy on Youth. Francine is a frequent presenter at international youth and women’s forums: in 2015, she spoke at the World Women Summit in São Paulo, the UN General Assembly, the First World Youth Forum on Peace and Security in Jordan, the African Union Heads of State and Government Summits, the Millennium Campus Conference at the UN in New York, and many other events throughout the world. 

Shizuka Nishimura

Shizuka Nishimura

(Japan), Former Project Coordinator at Children Without Borders in Bangladesh

Bio

Most recently, Shizuka worked as a Project Coordinator for Children Without Borders in Bangladesh where she developed education projects for children working and living in the streets and slums. Shizuka previously served as a Research Fellow for the Ministry of Higher Education of Sri Lanka. Shizuka’s research focuses on education issues in Asia and the Pacific, particularly the role of education in improving labor market outcomes, education and labor market linkages, global citizenship and peace education for children and youth in developing countries. Shizuka holds a Master’s degree from The George Washington University in International Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Law from Soka University. 
Salyne El Samarany

Salyne El Samarany

(Lebanon), CEO Teach For Lebanon

Bio

Salyne is actively involved in civil society issues. She participated in the Middle East Partnership Initiative Program for Student Leaders at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, has represented Lebanon in many international conferences, and was chosen as the Lebanese Ambassador of Youth at the Arab Thought Foundation in 2011. As CEO of Teach For Lebanon, Salyne believes that providing equal educational opportunities for Lebanese children is at the core of the nation’s well-being. Since its inception in 2009, Teach For Lebanon has received more than 1,000 applications and fielded nearly 100 teaching participants in 19 schools across North Lebanon, West Bekaa, and South Lebanon. These teachers have helped expand opportunity for over 8,400 high-risk students – including Palestinian and Syrian refugees, orphans, and street children – and now almost 50 program alumni are working to extend their impact. In 2014, she was one of nine young people selected for the 2014 UN Special Envoy for Global Education’s Youth Courage Award for the two years she spent as a Teach For Lebanon Fellow in North Lebanon, teaching at an under-resourced school where basic supplies such as chalk were scarce, the infrastructure was unsafe, and just one of the seven teachers serving 205 students had a university degree. Salyne is a Nutrition and Diet Therapist graduate from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), and holds a Master of Business Administration and Management from the University of Balamand (UOB). 
Menghan Shen

Menghan Shen

(China), Assistant Professor at Waseda University; founder of PEER, a service education NGO

Bio

Menghan received her Doctoral Degree from the Economics and Education program at Columbia University. Her research focuses on using applied microeconomics to evaluate education policy in the United States and China. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Mathematics from Bryn Mawr College and Master’s in International Education Policy from Harvard University. She founded PEER, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing quality education to students in rural China that hosts summer camps for rural Chinese students focused on developing teamwork and critical thinking skills. She has also written a book in Chinese on understanding higher education practices and policies in the United States. 
Mohamed Sidibay

Mohamed Sidibay

(Sierra Leone), Former child soldier; World Teach and Colombia Ministry of Education Fellow

Bio

Mohamed moved to the United States at age 14 in search of peace, education and life in a community that wouldn’t judge him on the atrocities of his past, but instead help him achieve his aspirations for the future. Rather than going to school and leading the life of a typical child, Mohamed was forced, at 5 years old, into the role of a child soldier. From growing up during Sierra Leone’s civil war to settling in the suburbs of New Jersey, he has witnessed the best and worst of humanity. Mohamed now dedicates his life to ensuring educational access to all children regardless of where they are born. As a Global Youth Ambassador for the World at School Program and a MY HERO Peace Activist, Mohamed’s lectures on the power of education have spanned four continents. A 2015 graduate of The George Washington University Elliot School of International Affairs, Mohamed currently lives in Cartagena, Colombia, serving as both a World Teach and a Colombia Ministry of Education Fellow.
Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

(Dominican Republic), Gates Scholar at Cambridge University

Bio

Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the United States, Carlos is a passionate scholar, speaker and advocate. He overcame undocumented status and financial hardship to graduate summa cum laude from Amherst College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Interdisciplinary U.S. Latino Studies. Carlos has engaged voters in immigrant communities in Chicago, Illinois; worked as a congressional fellow in Washington, DC; and assisted newly arrived refugees in becoming economically self-sufficient in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He also helped organize the first statewide gathering of undocumented youth in Pennsylvania and led advocacy efforts for the Pennsylvania DREAM Act, a bill which would increase access to higher education for undocumented youth in the state. He is currently a Gates Cambridge Scholar pursuing a Master of Philosophy in Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He is also an inaugural recipient of a Schwarzman Scholarship to pursue a master’s in Global Affairs with a concentration in business and economics at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China later this year. His ultimate goal is to reduce social inequality and spur sustainable growth in the Dominican Republic by increasing government accountability, implementing more humane social policies, and strengthening diplomatic and economic ties with the People’s Republic of China. 
Martine “Kessy” Ekomo-Soignet

Martine “Kessy” Ekomo-Soignet

(Central African Republic), Founder of URU, a youth-led peace-building and development organization

Bio

Martine is a youth activist and local correspondent for Peace Direct, an international organization supporting local solutions to crisis. She is the founder of URU, a youth-led local organization working on peace-building and development in the Central African Republic. In 2014, she was selected as part of the inaugural class of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (YALI) program. She represented the Central African Republic as a delegate at the Global Forum on Youth, Peace and Security in Amman, Jordan, and will be traveling to the U.S. for the launch of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security. She previously worked and volunteered for humanitarian causes in France and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She speaks fluent French, English and Sango. 
Iman Usman

Iman Usman

(Indonesia), Co-founder and CEO of Ruangguru.com, Indonesia's largest online marketplace for private tutoring and educational content

Bio

Iman is the co-founder and CEO of Ruangguru.com, an award-winning tech-enabled education provider in Indonesia. Under his leadership, Ruangguru.com has developed various products and services to advance Indonesia’s education. He helped create the nation’s largest online marketplace for private tutoring which organizes more than 25,000 tutors, a mobile application for on-demand tutoring and a learning management system enabling students and teachers to access exam-prep materials and real-time performance-based analytics. Ruangguru.com won Indonesia’s ‘Best Education Website’ from the 2015 Bubu Awards. Prior to founding Ruangguru.com, Iman was known as a youth development opinion leader. His contribution and commitment to youth empowerment have been recognized globally with his many awards: the 2011 ASEAN Youth Award, the 2011 UN Youth Assembly Recognition on Humanitarian Development, the 2011 Global Teen Leader Award, the 2010 British Council’s Global Changemaker Award, the 2008 Ashoka Young Changemaker Award, and the 2008 Indonesian Young Leader Award from the President of the Republic of Indonesia. He is also a WISE Learners Fellow of the Qatar Foundation and Laureate Global Education Fellow. His work has been featured on CNN, BBC, Euro News, Forbes and Bloomberg Businessweek. He received his B.A. (cum laude) in International Relations from the University of Indonesia and an M.A. in International Education Development from Columbia University. 
Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

(Pakistan), Co-founder of the Malala Fund and youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Bio

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist, student and the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At age 15, on her way home from school, she was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for the rights of girls to go to school. Malala recovered, continued her campaign and built a global movement of support for girls’ education. She is the co-founder of the Malala Fund.  

Special Jury Members for the Education Youth Video Challenge

Beth Garrod

Beth Garrod

Director of International Social Responsibility, Viacom

Bio

Beth joined Viacom in 2013 after over a decade of creating youth content for the BBC. After starting her career on the UK’s largest teen site, Beth moved to producing flagship music and children’s TV shows, and now specializes in creative pro-social content. With a background in content across on-air, digital, radio and print, Beth has launched campaigns on the issues that matter most to young people, from mental health through to employment. As Director of International Social Responsibility at Viacom, Beth oversees content across international brands (including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon). Her work at Viacom has already included launching a youth employment campaign, MTV Breaks, launching and producing a documentary for MTV about young Syrian refugees, and supporting MTV’s in-house foundation, the MTV Staying Alive Foundation. Beth is also a Young Adult author with her debut book, Super Awkward, being published by Scholastic in 2016. 
Ahmad Alhendawi

Ahmad Alhendawi

United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth

Bio

Ahmad Alhendawi of Jordan is the first-ever United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. He assumed office in February 2013. A strong youth advocate at the national, regional and international levels, Mr. Alhendawi was described by the UN Secretary-General as “the youngest senior official at the United Nations.” He previously worked as the Youth Policy Advisor in the League of Arab States. Prior to this, he served as a Team Leader for the National Youth Policy Project in Iraq, a Youth Programme Associate at the Iraq office of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and as the Emergency Programme Officer at the non-governmental organization Save the Children.