There are 57 million girls and boys around the world who do not go to school and 250 million more who are not learning. US$ 26 billion is needed to fill the funding gap in global education. These startling statistics are all from “A World at School” an initiative by the UN special education envoy.
Botswana is widely considered as one of those countries that take education seriously, considering its substantial annual education budget. Kelebogile Simula was recently selected as a Global Youth Ambassador for “A World at School” and her tenure in office will run from April1st, 2014 until March 31, 2015.
“A World at School” was founded by Mrs. Sarah Brown, wife of former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and now United Nations Special Envoy.
”I am joined in this call to action by 500 other young advocates for global education. Together, we make up a group called Global Youth Ambassadors, launched in April 1 by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown,” said Simula.
Born in Bobonong, the 24-year old University of Cape Town student said before she was selected she had to write inspirational essays about the organization and try to inspire her peers with the story of her life. Her ultimate selection shows that somehow she made an impact.
“I come from humble beginnings and I worked hard to change my situation and make my tomorrow brighter. At a very young age I realized that education was my passport from poverty to prosperity and I resolved to thrive and achieve,” she said.
Her fellow ambassadors are Shazia, Kainat and the world famous Malala Yousafzai, who were shot by the Taliban for going to school in Pakistan just over a year ago. Simula said her story, together with that of Malala and many other youth ambassadors have inspired her to stand up for the millions of children that are kept out of school by poverty, child marriage, child labor and different forms of discrimination.
As ambassadors, Simula and her colleagues are responsible for ensuring that their voices are heard in their communities by organizing events, participating in campaigns, writing letters to the editors, running petition drives and taking part in other campaign activities. For them to be heard globally they write blogs and news stories and share photographs and videos from events and projects for the global “A World at School” website and social media channels, which reach 50,000 to 100,000 people every week.
“We organize local and national education advocacy-related events and campaigns, support global campaign efforts and where possible organize a coalition of like-minded youth groups,” she said.
In Botswana, Simula said she has been involved in a lot of volunteer work, including as a peer counselor during her years at university.
“I have two fellow students whom I motivated to transform their lives. One followed on my footsteps and was selected for an exchange program in Finland after being among the top three in class. Another was selected for an exchange program in the USA,” said Simula.
She also revealed that she has been invited as a guest speaker at an event to be hosted by the Botswana Family Welfare Association (BFWA) to mark the Day of the African child.
She also urged other youth to access information on “A World at School” on blog: www.worldatschool.org or twitter: @ kelebogilesimul.