Wrap-up: #OYW2018 Poverty Alleviation Plenary Session

With keynote introduction from Lord Michael Hastings, Global Head of Citizenship, KPMG International

The global youth unemployment rate is on the rise again. The UN’s International Labour Organization predicts that numbers will increase by 200,000 in 2018 to a total of 71.1 million (more than 13%). After several years of improvement from the crisis peak of 76.7 million youth employed in 2009, the problem is again getting worse.

In addition, more than 160 million working youths in the developing world are living on pay of less than $3.10 a day. Almost 90% of all young people live in developing countries.

There is a widespread assumption that youth unemployment and conflict are directly related, with a lack of economic opportunity associated with greater vulnerability to participation in armed violence, crime and other illicit activities.

One Young World Ambassador-led projects are alleviating poverty and developing the economy by providing access to training, education and employment opportunities. Yet young people are three times as likely to be unemployed as adults, and in 76% of countries with data more than one in ten youths are neither in education nor working.

If we do not create the 600 million jobs needed for young people in the next decade, how can we deal with the ramifications?

Education: Will The Internet Achieve Equality in Education?

Opening the morning session, keynote speaker, Lord Michael Hastings spoke of the 800 million people around the world who are unable to read and write. He told of his experiences in refugee camps and on remote islands, he told of the devastating way children are cut off from education. But he had seen hope and by spreading digital education he had opened up doors to information around the world.

He had one call to action for the delegates and Counsellors in the room: “Join the revolution, let’s all be educators”.

Charif Hamidi. Morocco introduced by Biz Stone

Founder of Education 4.0, an education innovation social enterprise that leverages fourth industrial revolution technologies to empower youths, develop their creativity, cognitive skills, and design and systems thinking, and prepare them for future labor markets.

Charif had a high-flying, international job.  Jetting to meetings in New York, Paris, Dubai. But he gave it up to follow his true purpose, providing quality education. Having moved back to Morocco to care for his mother he found himself responsible for three children with no grasp of numbers; but using resources he found online it took him only two weeks to teach them basic algebra. Days later 20 children turned up at his door imploring; “can we play mathematics teacher?”

Seeing this need, he set up his social enterprise democratising education and tailoring programmes to the needs of the students. So far he has impacted over 1800 students and trained 351 teachers.


Veaceslav Cretu. Moldova introduced by Lord Michael Hastings.

CEO and founder of Digikidz, an information technology project designed to improve the educational system in the high schools of the Republic of Moldova.

As a child Veaceslav experienced first hand the learning crisis in Moldova, sharing 1 book with 253 students. But he had a vision, aged 15 he connected his high school to the internet, transforming the lives of poor families who now had access to infinitely more information.

“The only way to ensure access to alternative educational resources was online”.

He founded DigiKidz, to give thousands more children this opportunity, to tackle digital literacy and with the aim of reducing inequalities and modernising education. Now DigiKidz has become part of a national initiative with a common goal to transform education in the Republic of Moldova reaching 80,000 children with digital education by 2022.

Spandana Palaypu. UAE introduced by David Sproul

Her platform ZoEasy helps blue collar migrant workers find viable employment by cutting out exploitative middle men.

Spandana opened acknowledging that without the blue collar migrant workers none of Dubai’s recognisable sites would even exist. “The migrant blue collar economy are the silent support system of Dubai and an integral part of the economy”.

She spoke of the false-dreams these migrant workers are sold by exploitative middlemen. Angered by their treatment, both as a migrant herself and as a fellow human being she founded ZoEasy.

Spandana was determined that education should not end at school, workers need to be able to continue to educate themselves to inform and advance careers. Her online platform matches job seekers and employers in a transparent manner, putting human rights, good salaries and proper working conditions at the core of the movement.  

In closing she reminded the audience “Blue-collar workers should be treated not as commodities, but has human beings”.

Caritta Seppa. Finland introduced Mark Tewksbury

Co-founder and COO at Tespack, a company specialising in mobile energy with the goal of making everyone masters of their own energy needs.

Combining tackling climate change and bringing education to inaccessible areas Caritta’s company uses solar power to allow teachers to charge devices. Her idea removes the need for access to energy grids, removes the need for teachers to carry heavy textbooks long distances and instead empowers millions of individuals across 3 continents through online education.

Summing up her vision, Caritta said: “Education should never be a privilege and access to energy and the internet should never be an obstacle”.

Zarangiz Huseynova. Azerbaijan introduced by Rosanna Bee

Creator of WoWoman, a female empowerment programme that provides technology tools that allow women in Azerbaijan to realise their potential.

Zara’s experience of Azerbaijan had exposed her to the societal injustices of her being a woman. But she was determined that she would overcome the hurdles she faced as a woman in business. So she developed an online community 25,000 strong to teach coding and entrepreneurship.

She explained, “The challenge is that women are afraid to take charge of their own lives. This is because they keep hearing internal voices, telling them that they are not good enough, they are not capable and that they will fail”.

Zara shared the success story of Mariam, who had drowned out those voices and had felt empowered to leave her abusive relationship and work as a programmer, supporting her children.

James da Costa. UK introduced by Caroline Mutoko

Co-founder of Mandala Group, which creates Impact Apps, connecting low-income communities to essential services such as healthcare, education, and finance. His work includes creating a marketplace for coconut farmers in Kenya and helping illiterate mothers read to their children in India through basic mobile phones.

James’ overriding message was that without the ability to read, children lose essential language and understanding skills. That it robs them of a voice. His Mandala group aims to break the cycle of illiteracy in families. It uses the application Tell-A-Story, which will function on any phone (even a Nokia 3310) to read aloud to a child when their parents can’t.

He believes, “The internet will only achieve education equality if we design for extreme accessibility”.

James closed emphasising that we urgently need to address illiteracy, “If we are to solve the problems of the world we need all 7 billion people working on them. We cannot afford to leave 1 billion people behind”.

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