10 children defending their right to learn.
It’s been a tough year for children everywhere. The Covid-19 pandemic has closed schools all around the world, and billions of children are missing out. The rest of us read about this in newspapers and discuss it on Twitter. But no one knows more about this situation than children themselves. They are the ones who live it, feel it, and have to deal with the consequences. For them, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Children understand that education is the key to unlocking their potential. Education gives children the tools they need to develop, grow and create the life they want. Covid-19 has denied many children of this fundamental right. But many are not taking this lying down.
Last month, 10 children, representing the UK, Nigeria, Norway, Canada and Colombia – with recordings from children in Jordan – spoke up about their experiences of missing school. They got on a zoom call with ministers from Nigeria, Canada, Norway and the UK and demanded action – concrete commitments to protect children’s right to learn. Together they discussed their futures in their terms –anxieties around climate change, the gaps between rich and poor, what governments must do to protect their right to learn.
“Society is built on education. It gives us our values. It shows us how to be a citizen. Where would we be without education?” - Zoe from Canada, who joined the call.
Skilling up the world’s children
By equipping children with the tools they need to navigate life, education is a powerful elixir to help all of us create a better world. But it’s under threat. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were 258 million children out of school. Now that number is much larger, with a real risk that many of the most vulnerable children will never go back.
This doesn’t just hamper children fulfilling their potential, it’s a brake on global progress too. If every child in the world could read and write, the number of people living in extreme poverty would drop by 12%. That’s 171 million people.
‘My dream is for girls to complete their education and choose when they want to marry.’ – Maya, who contributed to the call from a refugee camp in Jordan.
Children are standing up for themselves
Around the world, children like Maya are speaking up – on issues from education, to climate change to health. Collectively, they are helping create a world that protects the rights of girls and boys. They are changing the world as they become the adults they want to be.
There’s Annielka in Nicaragua, who campaigns to create safe spaces and support networks for adolescent girls:
“What inspires me is that we can achieve change; letting girls and boys know they can raise their voices and defend their rights. That all those barriers that are preventing us from fulfilling our dreams may disappear and thus contribute to a better future for the children. A future in which they can make their dreams come true, with better opportunities and a better life.”
Or Rose Jade Eugenie Delgado from the Phillipines, who founded the organisation “Children Helping Children”, where she started feeding programmes, medical services and a vegetable garden.
Or Marayam from Nigeria, who is campaigning to end child marriage and sexual abuse:
“I am calling on our leaders to include us when making decisions that affect our lives. I urge them to set up programs that will remove social barriers that limit us or hurt us, and to establish laws and policies that protect our rights."
Maryam is right. Children all over the world are advocating for their own futures. But they shouldn’t have to do it alone. Adults should support them. That means the governments too.
Save the Children campaigns to make sure UK aid money is spent where it can have a profound positive impact on children’s futures. These are areas like education, health and nutrition programmes. You can join us. Let’s make sure aid money is spent to support children in transforming their lives.