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Podcast #74: Young people provide strategic advice on education issues

‘Beyond School Books’ – a podcast series on education in emergencies

© UNICEF/2013/Ng
UNICEF podcast moderator Femi Oke (centre) interviews Youth Advocacy Group members Salathiel Ntakirutimana from Burundi (left) and Sumaya Saluja from India (right).

By Rudina Vojvoda

NEW YORK, United States of America, 26 April 2013 – Members of the Youth Advocacy Group (YAG) gathered last week in Washington, DC, to advise high-level policy-makers on issues around education. Over the next year, the young leaders will provide strategic advice on young people’s priorities, mobilize youth groups and act as a connector between the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) and young people all over the world.

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Podcast moderator Femi Oke caught up with Salathiel Ntakirutimana, the representative for Burundi, and Sumaya Saluja, the representative for India. The young leaders talked about their experiences, the role of education in young people’s lives and their work with YAG.

Building a peaceful, just and more enjoyable world through education

For Salathiel, the most exciting and challenging part of being a YAG member is representing those youth who are the hardest the reach. “What I have been trying to do as part of this advocacy group is to see how can we make sure that those young people from rural areas are represented in this group, how can we make sure that their ideas are voiced in our head,” he said.

Born in Burundi at the outset of civil war in 1993, Salathiel lost his parents at an early age and ended up in a refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the age of 15, he co-founded the Association of Burundian Orphans to help other young people in the same circumstances. Today, Salathiel studies mechanical engineering at Harvard University.

According to Salathiel, education plays a crucial role in avoiding conflict by empowering people to create solutions to their own problems. “Giving young people an education is ensuring that they have access to resources, or the creation of even better resources, that can meet the challenges of that time,” he said, explaining that avoiding resource-related conflicts will lead to a more sustainable, just and enjoyable world for everyone.

Consolidating the power of youth

As Programme Coordinator of the YP Foundation, a youth-led and -run organization in New Delhi, Sumaya’s expertise is on issues related to adolescent sexual reproductive health, child and maternal care, peer education and media training. 

Discussing the role of young people in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the challenges ahead, Sumaya said that young people have the ability to mobilize more people on the ground and to run very innovative and effective programmes – but disconnection among youth groups and working in isolation can be an issue. 

“I think that the young people do get strategies, they do get solutions,” she said. “I think they need a little bit of help consolidating all of that.”

To learn more about YAG and its members, visit: http://www.globaleducationfirst.org/669.htm

To learn more about the Global Education First Initiative, visit: http://globaleducationfirst.org/




17 April 2013: UNICEF podcast moderator Femi Oke interviews youth advocates Salathiel Ntakirutimana and Sumaya Saluja.
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