One of the best parts of my job is speaking with young people around the world when I visit our schools and hearing their unique perspective on education and issues facing our planet.
The insight that our students provide spans borders and nationalities and I am always impressed by the thoughtfulness of their opinions and the way in which they express themselves. Even at their young age, many of our students have had diverse and challenging experiences - often relocating to new countries, learning a new language, or adapting to a completely different way of life. These interactions with our students inspire me, along with everyone in our schools, to strive to offer the best possible educational experiences.
This World Children’s Day, to celebrate the power of young people’s voices and in keeping with UNICEF’s #KidsTakeOver campaign, I wanted to handover my blog to our students so that they can share their thoughts on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and creating a better future for our planet.
I hope you enjoy reading their insights as much as I did.
18-year-old Lina El Rasheed from the British International School Abu Dhabi was born in Khartoum, Sudan, but lived in Trondheim, Norway for 16 years. She speaks Norwegian, English and Arabic and loves football, hiking and reading. Her love for politics started in Trondheim where she was in the youth city council for three years to make schools in the area better by working closely with the city council. She aspires to be a paediatrician who helps and educates children in developing countries. This is why the Global Goals are particularly important to her:
“The Global Goals are important to me because they are hope for our future. They are the way forward, to lead into a good life for us, now, and for everyone to come. Even if we are only on the way in achieving them, that is already a big improvement to the lives of many. It is essential that we all work towards the goals, because they affect us all. Not only certain people, in certain countries, but every single human on earth. If you are lucky enough to not have to worry about basic human needs such as food and clean water, the sustainability of your city, the consumption and production, will affect you, directly or indirectly.”
“The Global Goals are important to me because they are the key to our future. They are a pathway to a better and brighter world, and improved future for everyone. It is not hopeless; the earth and its people are worth fighting for. It is a beautiful world; there is no reason not to make it great! Wherever there is light, there is hope. Wherever there are humans, there is hope and development. Now we need to make the development sustainable.”
Saliha Rehanaz attends Regents International School Pattaya in Thailand and comes from Bangladesh. Seliha is 17, passionate about science and healthcare and hopes to work in the field of medicine in the future. This is what she thinks NGOs, the media and business and government leaders should focus on:
“We are currently in the second year of our journey to bring sustainability and development to the world through the Global Goals. In 2015, world leaders promised to adopt the Global Goals and implement them in their respective countries. I believe that it is their duty to follow up on their promise to integrate the Global Goals into our communities and accomplish them by 2030. This is achievable by using the power of words to spread the message of the Global Goals, so each individual is aware of how each Goal was developed to benefit different sectors and people of all walks of life. Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Business leaders, NGOs, and the media should invest their time and effort to find methods to involve people, so they can learn about the Global Goals. Therefore, when educational institutions incorporate the teachings of the Global Goals in school, students, like myself, are able to carry on the message and reach out a wider audience and raise awareness in different communities.”
Hanna Scott, a 15 year old who attends Nord Anglia International School Shanghai, Pudong, has already lived in three countries—Australia, China and Thailand. She dreams of working at the United Nations or for the Australian government one day. This is what concerns her the most about the future of the planet:
“Although there are many problems that concern me about the future of our planet, the most worrying of these concerns is that certain nations will continue to prioritise the worth of certain people over others no matter the consequences. It is disturbing to think that 289,000 children under the age of 5 still die each year from poor-water related diseases, and that many people still think that that is acceptable. The social inequalities that are ever present in our world make it impossible to eradicate poverty (and the accompanying mentality that aids it), and unless this immoral and outdated way of thinking can be reversed, the future looks very much like the past: full of intolerance, except now with modern weaponry at the helm of dispute resolution. The current apathetic approach to solving social injustices creates lethal problems on both ends of a disasters-only spectrum, such as extreme destitution and nuclear warfare. Unless nations in power realise that something must be done immediately, and work to alter the course humanity is travelling, there is a high possibility that there won’t be a future for millions of people around the globe.”
Arthur Lienard was born in France and attends the British International School Bratislava. At age 9 he and his family moved to Slovakia where he had no understanding of English, but quickly acquired the language. In addition to learning English, Arthur also speaks Spanish and German after attending international school for many years. This is what makes the 17 year old most hopeful about the future of the planet:
“If there is one thing I really don’t believe, it’s that we are doomed. In fact, I believe in the complete opposite: we have more potential than ever to succeed. Although we face many challenges we have never faced before alongside existing problems on a much larger scale than in the past, we have more knowledge than ever had before, more technology and a better understanding of the problems. With all we have at our disposal we can solve these issues, we just haven’t unlocked the full potential of these world changing innovations yet.”
“What makes me hopeful is that even if there is an apparent political trend of separatism, when I speak to my classmates and young people in general, there is a strong feeling that we should unite to fight to save our planet and create a fair and equal world. We try to solve new issues using old techniques hence our obsolete problem solving does not enable us to bring the sustainable changes our planet needs. I am hopeful that as new generations come to power, the change in our mindsets will allow fundamental and meaningful changes that will be required to save our planet.”
From these thoughtful answers, you can see that our young people are incredibly competent, full of passion and have a tremendous amount to offer. I’d like to thank them all for taking the time to share their insights with readers. Their answers reinforce why a quality education and real world experiences are so important in a fast changing world.