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Global Youth Call-to-Action For A Learning Generation

Esteemed Leaders and Members of Humanity,

Young people, children and youth under the age of 30, represent nearly half of the global population. If we are to ensure that each and every young person, especially the disadvantaged and marginalized, is to live and thrive, we must eliminate barriers that prevent them from accessing inclusive and equitable quality education opportunities. This endeavor is required for the international community to realize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and honor the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of all.

This past year, we have had conversations and consultations with you and our communities to learn about, raise awareness of, and mobilize around education. Your ideas, insights, and inquiries are embodied in The Commission’s Report and Agenda for Action. Here, we present a call-to-action on key issues that are critical for state and non-state actors, individuals and institutions alike to take into account as we renew and amplify efforts to collaboratively approach and invest in the potential of each and every young person.

Opportunity for All

Sustainable development is contingent on leaders at all levels and sectors of society taking action to ensure that young people, especially those who are marginalized and vulnerable to exploitation, have the same level of educational access, development, and attainment as their more privileged peers. Governments must provide free and full quality pre-primary, primary, and secondary education. Educational institutions must ensure inclusion of and respect for each and every individual. In order to effectuate:

  1. Provide universal access and protection to marginalized young people: Governments and educational institutions must honor and protect the inherent dignity and unique identity of minority and marginalized individuals and groups. These young people include, but are not limited to gender and sexual minorities such as girls and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) youth, young refugees and those displaced by conflict and crises, students with disabilities, children of and from the lowest social status of society for example Dalits, indigenous children, rural and geographically isolated children, adolescent parents, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth, and those vulnerable to exploitation such as child brides, soldiers, laborers, and children who are trafficked.
  2. Amend laws and policies that discriminate and exclude young people from education: In collaboration with civil society, governments and education institutions must review their enrollment criteria, curriculum, funding mechanisms, and statutes to identify and amend discriminatory policies which inhibit the enrollment and educational development and attainment of minorities and marginalized individuals and groups.
  3. Incorporate minority narratives into the learning process: Governments and educational institutions must bring awareness to and understanding of traditionally underrepresented and marginalized groups and their history through curriculum and programming. Absence of such narratives either perpetuates or does little to equip teachers, students, parents, and community members with the knowledge and skills to address and eliminate injustice and inequality within and beyond the education system.
  4. Guarantee universal access irrespective of citizenship status: Governments must fulfill their obligations stipulated by the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which legally binds signatories to guarantee that all people residing within their borders, including non-citizens, have equitable access to a quality education. Governments must ensure that young undocumented immigrants, refugees, stateless peoples, and others are not barred from enrolling in school or denied access due to their status and socioeconomic and educational needs. Governments must remove any administrative barriers to enrollment and ensure school administrators at all levels are fully aware of their obligation to observe the educational rights of noncitizens.
  5. Target “invisible girls” to ensure equitable opportunity: Governments and civil society must monitor and evaluate provision of girls education. Improvements that have been made in access to quality education hide sub-national differences. Poor rural girls come off the worst in terms of educational disadvantage. Participation and completion rates at secondary level, as well as learning outcomes, are especially low for girls from the most disadvantaged communities who face multiple types of disadvantage due to location, ethnicity, and low socioeconomic status. Monitoring is especially important in conflict and post-conflict environments.
  6. Provide learning opportunities for youth that have dropped out of school: Governments, educational institutions, nonprofits, and businesses must collaborate in providing opportunities for young people that have exited the education system such as out-of-school adolescent parents, and incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth. It is critical that that they have access to learning opportunities to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to reintegrate into the workforce, advance their careers, and contribute to society.
Education for the 21st Century

Equitable education opportunities will require transformations in the design and delivery of education. Formal and informal education must prepare young people to be lifelong learners, creators of, and contributors to economy and society. Among the life skills and values we must promulgate are entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship, empathy and cooperation, diversity and inclusion, resilience and adaptation. In order to transform education for the 21st century:

  1. Prioritize early childhood education: Governments and partners in the nonprofit and private sectors must make early childhood education programs a budgetary priority. These programs are critical to building a strong foundation for the cognitive and socioemotional development of children, as well as the capacity of their parents and guardians to participate in the overall development of children.
  2. Shift to learner-centered education: Students must not only be consumers, but also be active creators in their education. Parents, teachers, educational institutions, and governments must encourage greater agency for students to inform pedagogy and technology and participate in the design and outcomes of their learning experience.
  3. Promote sustainability and global citizenship education: Governments and educational institutions must develop and promote an education that is rooted in culture, context, and community, with a moral aim toward social and environmental justice. Tantamount is the incorporation of universal human rights and global perspectives necessary to cultivate students into global citizens, equipping them with the critical consciousness, knowledge, skills, and values to create a more cooperative, just, and sustainable planet.
  4. Allow for blended education and employment: Educational institutions, businesses, nonprofits, and governments must collaboratively explore, implement, evaluate, and iterate on partnerships that allow for students to learn and simultaneously earn a living. These partnerships are necessary for students to gain necessary knowledge and life skills, while taking into account and addressing the external realities that cause them to choose between their education and sustaining themselves and their family. Investment in technical, apprenticeship, and mentorship programs for young people is crucial.
  5. Provide universal access to digital learning: Governments, educational institutions, businesses, and nonprofits must collaboratively invest in providing universal access to the world wide web and open source content. Digital proficiency for students is critical in the digital and innovation economies and will equip students with skills to access and succeed in digital work and employment.
Elevate the Teaching Profession

A 21st century education is brought to fruition by teachers. As a society, we must raise the stature, morale, and quality of teachers. Governments and educational institutions must recruit and retain the best talent, increase reward, remuneration, and respect for teachers, while placing greater responsibility on teachers to empower and ensure their students are learning and acquiring necessary skills for life. Therefore:

  1. Intensify recruitment efforts: Governments and educational institutions must intensify their recruitment initiatives to identify and encourage activists, professionals, students, and other individuals with a passion for teaching to enter the profession. A key goal of such efforts should be to recruit and retain individuals from underrepresented groups and backgrounds, so that the profession reflects the diversity of the overall population.
  2. Provide in-service teacher training: Quality teachers are the foundation of any education system; thus, educational institutions must ensure teachers have access to ongoing training opportunities to hone their skills. Educational institutions, in partnership with governments, nonprofits, and businesses must provide more frequent and better pre-professional training and continuous professional development to educators throughout their careers. Training should include, but not be limited to technological literacy, special education, and cultural sensitivity.
  3. Guarantee a living wage to every teacher: Governments and educational institutions  must provide, at the very least, a living wage to every teacher. Doing so will allow teachers to fully focus on educating their students. Subsequent increases in teacher compensation should be tied to an accountability model that is not heavily testing-based and punitive, but rather affirmative and inspires teachers to continually improve and become better at their profession. Governments must also invest in incentives to support teachers working in the most marginalized sectors of society.
Mobilize for a Learning Generation

Meeting the challenge of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education opportunities for each and every child and youth, designing and delivering a 21st century education, and empowering teachers requires bold thinking and smart action, collective impact and long-term commitment. Young people, educators, and leaders at all levels and sectors of society must work together to inspire a learning generation. Therefore:

  1. Elevate youth voices in the decision-making process: It is paramount that young people are not only included, but recognized as valuable collaborators. State and non-state leaders must create platforms for young people to actively contribute their voices and ideas to decision-making at all levels of society. In the case for education, institutions and individuals must allow students to exercise freedoms of speech and assembly, and create institutional vehicles for them to shape policies and procedures. Children and youth must also be proactive in seeking and creating opportunities for themselves and their peers, and challenging the status quo if their voices are unheard.
  2. Adopt participatory governance: Governments and intergovernmental organizations must be humble enough to admit they do not have all interventions. Therefore, they must be nimble enough to adapt and allow non-state actors to collaborate with them in addressing challenges and identifying solutions. A few collaborative investment opportunities are participatory budgeting and P4 partnerships (public/private/people). Collaborations such as public and private partnerships must always be human-centered.
  3. Improve monitoring and evaluation: Governments, educational institutions, nonprofits, and businesses must collaboratively and comprehensively collect and analyze data frequently in order to determine and execute interventions necessary for teacher, student, and organizational success. Accurate and timely quantitative and qualitative data must be made publicly accessible at the local, national, and international levels. In many countries, upper secondary school statistics are not reported; therefore, data and analysis must also highlight educational exclusion at all levels.
  4. Establish national strategies for education development: Governments, with support from international organizations and through authentic engagement with civil society, must lead in establishing national strategies for education development. These roadmaps should take in account recommendations made by the Education Commission, especially in developing efficient and effective financing of objectives. They must allow localities and grassroots actors freedom to explore, pilot, measure, and evaluate what works best in their context to achieve local, national, and international goals, with a focus on children and youth that are most likely to miss out on education.
  5. Engage at the intersections of education and other pressing issues: An inclusive and equitable quality education has the potential to bring critical awareness and generate solutions to the world’s greatest challenges; therefore, state and nonstate actors, individuals and institutions, must work and mobilize at the intersection of education and other issues such as health, environment, equality, and security.
  6. Ensure continuity of global education leadership: Ensuring global education leadership at all levels and sectors of society for the years to come is an imperative. The next United Nations Secretary-General and presidents, prime ministers, and ministers of agencies of the world must commit to our collective endeavor in providing opportunity and hope to each and every young person through the provision of inclusive and equitable quality education opportunities.

Our call-to-action draws from and represents the breadth of feedback from our consultations and conversations; however, it does not encompass the depth of insights. Therefore, we invite you to peruse through the Commission’s report, our engagement pieces shared by the Commission, and our blogs. As young people, we will continue discussion and action, and begin taking active steps to ideate and implement what we have shared with you. Our most important call-to-action is that you deepen your stewardship of and support for young people, most especially the underprivileged and marginalized children and youth around the world, on our mission to inspire investment in a learning generation.

Yours in partnership,

Youth Panel
Benedict Joson Kennedy Odede Naglaa Fathy lithy
Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Martine Ekomo-Soignet Ramon Montano
Francine Mayumba Meghan Shen Rosemarie Ramitt
Giorgio Jackson Mohamed Khalil Liouane Salyne El Samarany
Hellen Griberg Mohamed Sidibay Sanaya Bharucha
Iman Usman Shizuka Nishimura