Global education campaigners build network for better future
A group of young campaigners from more than nine countries met on Saturday and committed to improving education for all.
Virendra Sharma, Member of Parliament for Ealing Southall in the United Kingdom, brought together campaigners for the third Britain South Asia Youth Summit on Saturday 13th August.
Impressive speakers from across South Asia spoke on Saturday, sharing their inspirational work and humbling stories. The youth delegates also worked together to discuss how the challenges of the future require modern solutions and the benefits technology may have to offer.
Coinciding with South Asian Heritage Month in the UK, Virendra Sharma MP’s annual initiative to bring together young, passionate changemakers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the UK works towards fostering continued cooperation and understanding between South Asia and Britain.
Honoured to host three inspiring education activists based across South Asia at the summit, Virendra Sharma MP shared how transformational education can be, drawing from his own experiences of his family in the Punjab village of Mandhali in India.
Noting how his mother and sister worked to ensure there was a place for both boys and girls to learn in their village, he reflected on how “sadly, gender discrimination in education still exists, still blights lives and still consigns too many girls to little or no formal education” and “worries that countries fear educating young people because they will demand better of their leaders, challenge orthodoxy and think for themselves”.
Manasi Pradhan, women’s rights activist based in India and founder of Honour for Women National Campaign, said “My life’s work has been to raise awareness about the need for women and girl’s education. I am delighted young people from the UK and across South Asia are coming together to discuss it and committing to act for education. I think it is really empowering that BSAYS has brought together these young people from different countries to cooperate and learn from each other, to support each other and work across borders.”
Joining from Afghanistan, Matiullah Wesa, education activist and founder and president of PenPath, described his own efforts resisting the Taliban ban on girls education, and said “Building networks of people is what my work is all about. I believe in educating women and girls because it is the right thing to do, and they go and educate many more people than I can alone. I am delighted to see more international support for what we are doing in Afghanistan, I hope we inspire many more to take up the campaign.”
In concluding the summit, Runa Khan, social entrepreneur based in Bangladesh and founder of Friendship NGO, inspired youth delegates to continue working together on the issue of global education, “Continuing to work as you have today is the first step in winning the global struggle for high quality education for all. A good education lifts you out of poverty and out of ignorance, it levels playing fields and builds a better society. The message of BSAYS is one of cooperation and the message I want you to take away is to remember that one person can change the world, but working together you will achieve so much more. What we did with Friendship in Bangladesh was we asked what worked and then deployed it at scale – you too can do the same to change the world.”
Mr Sharma intends to continue hosting events that bring together young people from South Asia and the UK throughout the year. To stay up to date with events, follow him on Twitter @VirendraSharma or head to his website www.virendrasharma.com.