Tackling Quality Education at the World Youth Summit: Johannesburg, SAYolandaAD
The World Youth Summit United Nations event is in full swing at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. This event, which commenced on 30 September and continues until 2 October, offers young delegates a platform to engage in the Dynamics of International Relations and assume the roles of world leaders and influential decision makers in a simulated setting. The much-welcomed initiative is in its second edition and focuses on SDG4: “Quality Education”, as a key agenda.
With global education statistics showing more than 72 million children who should be in primary school still unschooled, and 759 million adults illiterate with no available skills to improve their living conditions or that of their children, an exploration into this crucial goal is well timed. Young leaders at the Summit will have no shortage of burning issues to examine, especially when one considers the recent statistics from the PIRLS study (Progress in International Reading Literacy), which found that South Africa ranked last out of 50 countries in literacy, with 78% of Grade 4 learners unable to read for meaning. Accessibility to quality education is therefore a national imperative.
South Africa’s poor literacy levels show that the country continues to battle with the socio-economic issues and inequalities of our past. And unfortunately, the high levels of illiteracy have further marginalized previously disadvantaged low-income parents who live below the bread-line and who are more concerned about surviving, let alone finding the funds to invest in education or improve reading levels.
Amongst others, our low literacy levels can be attributed to a number of factors such as the lack of accessibility to skilled readers – the key to improving literacy – as well as a lack of quality education, a lack of skilled and qualified teachers, nutrition deficiencies in children, and inaccessibility to books and libraries.
But how do we fix these complex issues? For a start, it is imperative that the government, along with corporates, and NGO’s, work together with youth leaders as future change makers, to reverse these alarming statistics and ensure that education becomes a catalyst to change our socio-economic circumstances. By providing quality education at a primary school level, it will help to reverse the country’s high illiteracy statistic and assist in the fight against poverty.
However, it is only when we target educational interventions within the first four years of schooling that we can achieve the greatest impact. By building a solid foundation at grassroots level, it will contribute to better school and later matric results, creating a self-sustaining pool of future leaders, sustainable change agents, business entrepreneurs and job-makers. Further, having summit programs like the World Youth Summit on South African soil, is a vital step in the right direction when designing sustainable solutions for our future.
At Five Tulips, we are proud to be part of this movement. We create CSR partnerships that promote a culture of reading and provide direct interventions at primary, secondary and tertiary school levels. We work with corporate partners, NPO’s, NGO’s, communities and our youth to drive direct, sustainable change, one project at a time.
About the World Youth Summit:
The World Youth Summit is hosted by South African BRICS Youth Association (SABYA). SABYA serves as a bridge between young people and the wider BRICS (the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) community ranging from academics, researchers, foreign diplomatic missions, foreign ministries, government institutions and respective youth agencies. The association aims to facilitate people-to-people diplomacy among the BRICS countries, identifying areas of best practice and brings together entrepreneurs for peer learning and commission research on relevant themes.
About the Author:
Yolanda Gossel is the Founder and Programme Director at Five Tulips, a South African based sustainability and corporate social investment (CSI) consultancy. Five Tulips forges partnerships between communities, public and private sectors and individuals for social upliftment and preservation of our planets resources and ecosystems.
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