By Daly Trimble, Freshman, Fox Chapel High School
Leaders Kate Robertson and David Jones began Friday’s education plenary session by declaring that sixty-seven percent of the world delegates were concerned about their country being negatively impacted by poor education. Sixty-two percent felt that they had inadequate school systems, and a whopping eighty-five percent were troubled by illiteracy rates. Mohammed Razai of the UK stated “The problem with the UK is that a large number of people…do not get good, quality education. Those who can afford it get access…they get a good degree.” Ella Lu of China expressed similar sentiments. “China is very big. Many schools have no equipment,” describing how some rural children carried their own chairs to school so they could sit. She also noted: “Well educated doesn’t mean that you can have change in your life,” as there weren’t contingency plans allowing higher education graduates to find jobs suited to their skill set.
But several delegates and ambassadors had innovations to supply.
Alberto Matus of Belize described the impact of technology on education. According to him, literacy is not just about being able to read and write, but also about having technological skills and navigating computers with competence.
The fact that Belize often lacks these tools caused Mr. Matus to provide them. With his program, 5,000 children in Belize were able to get virtual schooling and a broader horizon through the Internet.
As Mr. Matus described it, “Technology is no substitute for an inspiring teacher but…web and technology is becoming the catalyst for education.”
Canadian Steve Mitchelmore had a different idea. By serving as a youth coach and leader, as well as professionally consulting mentoring groups, Mr. Mitchelmore believes that community is the key to success.
The Pathways to Education foundation he has consulted for provides aid on financial, academic, social, and mentoring levels. “There is no silver bullet,” he said, but the idea of support within struggling communities does more for children than a mere individual intervention. And the community itself benefits: with every dollar added to Pathways, twenty-five dollars comes out through the affected economy.
Many delegates also share the sentiment that a modern world requires a modern education. And true to One Young World form, there are already solutions on the rise suited to both a technological and community base for combating the problems.
While Mr. Razai called for lobbying the government and national change, many ideas occurred on a grassroots level. Too quick for authority to keep up, Franciso Abad of Ecuador has taken to the Web, fighting illiteracy and ignorance with entertainment. When a YouTube video has a long lesson taught by a man speaking English, that gives information, but “It’s a tragedy. Language is a part of the culture.” Students wishing to learn are left disenfranchised if they don’t speak English, or are inconvenienced into disregarding their own heritage. The long videos and dry presentation also don’t encourage curiosity, according to Mr. Abad. His website, socialmedia4change.com, has the goal of incorporating the ideas of fast information that is fun, yet serves as a framework for other cultures to adopt so the same lessons may be passed on a more personal level.
Sujit Lawali of India is like-minded, taking an active role on the personal improvement of his community. “In India, we have a lot of youth who are unemployed…and feel worth nothing.” Yet with his company IU (Inspiration Unlimited) many people have been learned otherwise. When asked how to improve the world, his current actions came in the form of a reply: “The idea I would suggest is illiterate to literate before you graduate.” By implementing inter-community tutors and objectives, students are shown not only how to be educated, but why it is beneficial even if a career is vocational. With the Internet, a person who does not have to be literate to survive now has the motivation to expand their skill set, with inspiration unlimited in providing the training. Additionally, iuy2c.org is a foundation devoted to the education of children, rather than exclusively adults or learning-conscious individuals. Here, literacy has transcended reading and writing into the previously mentioned computer literacy, health maintenance, and social progress.
There is no one problem, no one solution, and even no one definition of literacy. True to Mr. Lalwani, “Different nations have a similar problem, but need a different approach.” Fortunately, there have been several. Between plainly raising awareness, to starting a small business as a group, to having a mass system affecting thousands, illiteracy and the resulting ignorance may have met its match. Poor education bred in the past, and continues in modern day through inadequate relations and resources. But with the addition of an interconnected world and previously unthinkable technology, a 21st century education will soon be a click or a hand away.