Young and restless

Ray CollinsRay Collins celebrates Malala Day and the role of young people in helping change the world

Politicians try and make the world a better place. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong. Malala Day is about listening to children and asking them how we should change the world. 

Young people have been the inspiration and drivers to rally in support of common social causes, whether on civil rights, climate change or ending global poverty. They are most affected by the persistent problems facing the world and access to education has become one of the leading challenges of our time. 

Nelson Mandela has said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  He is right. Malala Yousafzai, shot by the Taliban in Pakistan because of her desire and commitment to campaign for the rights of all girls to get an education, has helped mobilised young people around the world. In Westminster, we marked her sixteenth Birthday with a special event. Malala meanwhile is using today to give her first public statement – on the importance of education – at the United Nations in New York.  An as part of the occasion, there will also be the first ever youth take-over of the UN General Assembly, with young people from across the globe meeting to agree a ‘Youth Call to Action’. 

What is happening today in New York and around the world will help shape what education will look like in the future. The event in Westminster will also show that the UK is committed to ensuring that every child, wherever they live, receives a quality education. 

So, Malala Day is not just a day about Malala. It’s a day to see the real impact youth can have on education and on the future actions of global leaders. As a parliamentarian I am passionate about the issue of education. Plus part of my duties in the House of Lords involves being a Shadow Minister for International Development. It isn’t right that 57 million children are not in school. It isn’t right that 3 million of these are girls and that one third have a disability. I want to see children in every country have the same opportunity that you all have to go to school.  But with the right support and commitment, we can reach these goals and shape a new generation of global citizens. 

With over 85% of the world’s youth living in the developing world, children and young people should be recognised as part of the solution to achieving our education goals. With their unique reach, restless energy, and willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with Malala, they can make a real difference and in doing so help change the world. 

Lord Ray Collins of Highbury is Shadow Minister for International Development in the Lords

Published 12th July 2013

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