Almost ten years ago, the United Nations (UN) announced the world’s first tuition-free online university. It was designed to use the Internet to bring further education to the masses requiring only an admission fee of $50 or less. The University continues to exist and has recently had further support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
According to Save The Children, more than half of the world’s school-aged children are not learning. Roughly 750 million people over the age of 15 still can’t read or write a basic sentence. With $8.15 billion invested in edtech companies globally in 2017 alone, there is newfound hope of providing more accessible forms of education to those that need it most.
One Young World Ambassador initiatives are using online technology to close the opportunities gap between men and women, and between developing and developed societies. Projects have educated 108,150 students, providing employable skills and training.
But are we doing enough to exploit the wonders of the world wide web for the benefit of better educating the global population?
Poverty Alleviation: Can Solving Youth Unemployment Avert Future Conflicts?
Achaleke Christian. Cameroon, Introduced by AKON
Coordinator of CYPAN-Africa, Achaleke is dedicated to fighting violent extremism in Cameroon by working with young people in prison. He was named Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2016.
Achaleke saw poverty and violence all around him as a child growing up in Cameroon. At 13, he started carrying a machete and fighting on the streets. His anger built inside him, full of hate and with no interest in reconciliation he saw his peers murdered or thrown in jail.
When his peers were released, they were more violent and more unpatriotic, and they had been preyed upon by violent groups. At that moment, he decided to become a peace builder.
“Thus transformed a young man who was full of hate in anger into a peacemaker.”
After helping empower over 1 million young people, his programme now focuses on prisoners, providing them with opportunities to reintegrate successfully with society.
“We are transforming young prisoners, into prison-preneurs”.
Ahlem Nasraoui. Tunisia. Introduced by Rosario Dawson
She works to empower women and fight violent extremism in Tunisia, bringing hackathons and start-up boot camps to young people in at-risk areas.
Living in Tunisia, Ahlem witnessed the oppression of ambition by fear. She saw young people turning to terrorism as a viable career because they saw no other options.
To provide alternatives to violent extremism, Ahlem has created regional job fairs, democratising access to professional opportunities. Her success has prevented 5,500 young people from turning to extremism. Her tangible options saved the future of a potential smuggler, who instead of boarding a boat boarded her bus, developed skills and started his own social enterprise.
“No matter who you are, or where you live, our programme can offer young Tunisians something bigger than themselves”.
Julius Karl D. Fieve, Ghana. Introduced by Georgette Mulheir
Fieve is a Local Government Assembly Member who has developed a Women Rising and Empowerment initiative, mentored young Ghanaian leaders, and organized a free Digital Skills Training for youths in communities in Ghana.
Julius is one of 24 siblings, growing up in a peasant family in Ghana, he lived in poverty. He was only one of four of his siblings to complete school. He saw countless problems stemming from the route cause of poverty. So he ran for office.
Julius became an elected representative at the age of 26. He represents 7,000 people and is able to fight for improved education, employment opportunities, better infrastructure, women’s rights.
But he doesn’t want to change the world alone, “You should all stand for office You are not too young to lead!” the delegate urged.
Mary Helda Akongo, Uganda. Introduced by Hans Reitz
Akongo is a gender equality activist who leads Zimba Women, a non-profit that uses technology to empower women in Uganda and beyond.
Forced to flee her home from domestic violence Helda was fortunate to have a strong, supportive network of family, friends and employers. They were her rock in times of anger, depression and loneliness.
Knowing that women exposed to violence earn 60 percent less than those who aren’t,
“Put simply, eliminating violence promotes economic prosperity”, the delegate said.
Helda wanted to empower women and provide them with a rock too. She created a digital platform for victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Her platform now supports digital literacy for over 5,000 African women in business and STEM and enrolled 170 women in their mentorship programme.
“I work so that no woman can wonder where she lost her strength and her voice” she closed.
David Santiago Cano Salazar, Colombia. Introduced by Antonio Zappulla
Salazar is the founder of TECHO, an organisation committed to overcoming poverty and linking volunteers across the country he has connected more than 500 companies and social organisations.
When Salazar was born, his city of Medellin was a dangerous place, with drive-by shootings a regular and indiscriminate occurrence. Now, David’s city is described as the most innovative city in the world. Their success came from building libraries, schools, improving the public transport system - addressing the root cause of the armed conflict, inequality.
He explained that TECHO bridges the divides in our society. Opening the ideas of volunteers to a reality they can’t ignore.
“We can build real and lasting peace in Colombia by giving people the opportunity to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty”.
Imrana Alhaji Buba. Nigeria. Introduced by Abrima Erwiah
Buba is the founder of Youth Coalition Against Terrorism, he rallies young volunteers to promote peace and tolerance in the face of the rise of the Boko Haram terror group in north-east Nigeria.
Imrana’s bus was stopped by Boko Haram, and he waited as they chose passengers to kidnap. His uncles both died in a bomb blast. His neighbour was murdered in cold blood. His friend was kidnapped for almost three weeks until his father was able to pay a ransom.
Faced with this terrorism, Imrana began offering counselling services for victims of terrorism, as well as offering skills training and education to unemployed youths. He believes youth unemployment makes young people susceptible to radicalisation due to poverty and frustration with government.
But he said, “Young people do not want to be manipulated by extremist ideologues. Young people want to work and succeed but they need a helping hand.”