Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.Nelson Mandela
According to UNESCO, there were about 263 million children that were out-of-school youth in 2016. The total includes 64 million children of primary school age, 61 million of lower secondary school age and 138 million of upper secondary age.
Kids in many cultures are deprived of secondary school because they have reached the legal working age and are counted on to support their families. Countries in Sub Saharan Africa have the highest rates of exclusion in the entire world and girls are still less likely to receive an education that boys are. The main reason for children to remain absent from school is that they are living in conflict-affected areas in which interests are other than educational development.
Clearly, the lack of affordable and accessible quality education has greatly impacted developing countries all over the world. In order to solve this issue and many others, the UN established the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2016. According to the UNDP, “The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity’. Of the goals outlined in the resolution, achieving universal access to quality education for both boys and girls by 2030 was one of them.
The Reason Why I Advocate For Quality Education
Smokey Mountain used to be one of the largest landfills in the country. Now, it is home to some of the most poverty-stricken slums in the Philippines. After decades of accumulating almost two million metric tons of waste, the dumpsite slowly started to form a mountain. Years ago, it was known for numerous fires that burned the decomposing waste; hence the name, Smokey Mountain. In 2007, the government converted this landfill into a low-cost public housing site for impoverished people. The living conditions of Smokey Mountain have slightly improved since then but there is still a lot to be desired.
In 2017, I got the opportunity to visit Smokey Mountain along with my sister and my mom. It surprised me that these people could live so long in such unsustainable conditions. Although I had some experience volunteering in impoverished areas before, this experience was like anything I’d ever seen. We were there because we were volunteering at a local “Health Fair”. We were tasked with donating food, medicine, and diapers. While we passed out cups of clean water, we were greeted with happy faces and hugs from the children. As I played football with them later on, I noticed that many of them weren’t wearing shoes. That is likely why they also had open wounds on their calves and dirt on their feet. The whole time I thought about how no child deserves to live that way.
Along with giving away food and medicine, we also gave away some old books and school supplies. I remember seeing the pure joy on each of the children’s faces when I gave them a simple book and coloring pencils. It seemed that they rarely got the privilege to sit down and read a book. You should have seen the way they excitedly took the markers and started coloring the figures in their books. I know that it’s common for poor families to make their kids work young so it would make sense why they would want to quit school and provide for their families.
However, I couldn’t help but think that this was unfair.
Frankly, I love learning and I actually do love going to school. To think that there is a whole lost generation of children that don’t get to experience the joy of learning is heartbreaking. These children’s stories are just some out of 263 million kids just like them. Every single child in this world deserves equal opportunity and should be equipped with the right materials to succeed in life. That is why I am so passionate about education. Quality education puts everyone on an equal playing field and allows people to strive for excellence. Giving impoverished kids quality education can help them break the cycle of poverty for themselves and for their families.
The lack of education contributes to a vicious cycle of poverty making it difficult for impoverished kids to find jobs. Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. While alternative solutions are also important, I think that other solutions to poverty only target the issue at a surface level instead of addressing the root cause of the problem. If everyone was provided quality education, I believe that we could solve the most pressing issues in our society.
This message is best exemplified in this next story…
Education Can Change Lives and The Rest Of The World
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”– Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
Last year, I studied for seven weeks in Mumbai, India. I also got the opportunity to volunteer with an NGO called Kranti. Kranti empowers girls coming from Mumbai’s red light district and provides them with education, training, and opportunities to be agents of social change. There, I met some of the most inspiring and courageous individuals that I have ever met in my life. Their stories opened my eyes to the serious issues felt by the women working in the red light district. They helped me realize that most if not all women working in the red light district, don’t choose that path for themselves. There are always different circumstances that lead them to choose that path, especially for all the right reasons like providing for their child or simply just wanting to get by. This is why more people should have empathy for those that are put in situations of poverty or prostitution.
What I learned as well is that education can help impoverished individuals realize that they can achieve so much more than what life has previously dealt them. Education opened up avenues for these girls that wouldn’t have been there without it. They have a sense of empowerment and self-worth that I think is truly incredible. Now, some of the graduates of Kranti have moved on to pursue higher education outside of India. All over the world, these girls are serving as a driving force in combatting the harmful stigma against women in the red light district.
Not Another Poor Kid
My Process and Why I Chose Rap
Music is supposed to inspire.–Superstar, Lauryn Hill
I grew up listening to the words of great rappers like Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G, and Lauryn Hill. They were the voices that my parents listened to when they were younger, so naturally, their taste in music influenced mine. I remember listening to their songs and thinking about how the rappers could use their voice as an instrument and time it with the beat. When I got older and listened to the songs again, I was moved by the powerful words that they would convey through their rap. It amazed me that they could express so much with so little. Many spoke about social issues within their own neighborhoods and expressed a need to make a change.
What is rap? Rap’s a delivery style that includes rhyme, rhythm, and spoken language, usually delivered over a beat. It’s a part of the wider hip-hop culture, which includes the spoken word (the MC), the beats (the DJ), break-dancing, and graffiti art.
For my song, I started off with a beat to lay down the foundation for my entire composition. Then, I added 4 simple triad chords. After that, I applied my knowledge of music theory and started experimenting with more instruments like the violin, and bass guitar to see what I liked. Lastly, I composed a melody for my chorus. From there, I recorded my tracks, threw in a couple of adlibs and mixed them all together on GarageBand.
Breakdown Of The Lyrics
Now, I am going to walk you through the thought and inspiration for the lyrics of my song.
Now I see all these kids on the street, nothing to eat
With sores and bruises on their feet, in misery
They’re hurting but they’re longing to be
Given a chance in this world, now don’t you agree?
These kids deserve to see a life like you and me
But instead they’re knockin’ on the door of your Ferrari
And it’s something that you try not to see
You’re rollin up your windows staying blind to the whole scene
But why stay blind when you could be kind?
When you could remind yourself that we living in a world
That’s unfair, don’t mean we can’t care
Don’t mean we can’t give a chance for better welfare
I write this verse for the youth, it’s the truth
My intellectually astute
We may be young but our tongues speak maturity
We gotta guarantee our future’s security
The youth’s got the choice
To educate empower
To be heard so much louder
To fight for what matters
So get off your phones, get into reality
We gotta wake up and focus on humanity
We got real issues that need real action
That can’t be solved by immediate satisfaction
So after all of this, I hope you understand
We gotta get them educated man
Now is our time to make a change
There’s no more waiting
It starts today
You have the power to change a life through education
Let’s ignite a spark in the future’s heart for generations
Okay… so we get that we need to make a change. But, how do we start?
Here’s How YOU Can Get Involved
Some ways that you can get involved are by:
- Volunteering at an NGO near you that advocates for quality education
- Helping student’s reach their full potential and teaching at a “high-need” school near you
- Generating conversation on education with some of your thoughts on social media
- Sharing my song and this project with your family and friends to raise awareness on the issue
- Donating old books and school supplies to a local charity
- Supporting a child’s education in impoverished countries
- Activating your voice and becoming a HundrED Youth Ambassador
Fortunately, there are numerous organizations dedicated to improving the quality of education all over the world. Here are just a few to spark your involvement.
For Volunteering and Teaching
Teach For All, “Teach in Your Country”: https://teachforall.org/teach-your-country
International Volunteer HQ, “Teaching”: https://www.volunteerhq.org/volunteer-abroad-projects/teaching/
Plan My Gap Year, “English Teaching”: https://www.planmygapyear.com/teaching-volunteer-abroad-projects?utm_source=volunteerforever.com
Volunteer World, “Top 10 Volunteer Education Projects”: https://www.volunteerworld.com/en/volunteer-abroad/education
For Supporting a Child’s Education:
World Vision, “Education For Children”: https://donate.worldvision.org/give/education-for-children
Tulong Sa Kapwa Kapatid, “Sponsor a Student”:http://www.kapwakapatid.com/donate.html
Children International, “Sponsor a Child in Need”: https://www.children.org/make-a-difference/sponsor-a-child
For Becoming a Youth Ambassador:
In line with my advocacy for quality education, I became a HundrED Youth Ambassador. HundrED Youth Ambassadors are a community of young people that want to use their voices as a catalyst for change in education. Youth Ambassadors are given different semester tasks to promote agency and innovation. Now, I am encouraging more people like me that are passionate about quality education to apply!
If you want to make a change as a young person, check out this website for more information!
Sources Used In This Project:
Williams, Sue. “Press release: Closing the gender gap in education”. UN Women, 10 Mar. 2015, http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2015/3/press-release-closing-gender-gap-in-education
“Out-of-School Children and Youth”. UNESCO, 2017, http://uis.unesco.org/en/topic/out-school-children-and-youth
UNESCO Institue for Statistics. “One in Five Children, Adolescents and Youth is Out of School”. UNESCO, Feb. 2018, http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/fs48-one-five-children-adolescents-youth-out-school-2018-en.pdf
“Quality Education”. United Nation Development Programme, https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/goal-4-quality-education.html
“#Envision2030 Goal 4: Quality Education”. United Nation-Disability Department of Economic and Social Affairs, https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030-goal4.html
Pohan, Masniaritta. “How education breaks the cycle of poverty: An inter-regional study of Indonesian households”. Oklahoma State University, May 2013, https://shareok.org/bitstream/handle/11244/10981/Pohan_okstate_0664D_12713.pdf?sequence=1
Mize, Cole. “History of Rap – True Origins of Rap Music”. Cole Mize Studios, 23 Sept. 2014, https://colemizestudios.com/how-did-rap-start/