In 1999, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to mark 12th August as International Youth Day, following a recommendation from the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth. This year, the theme is ‘Transforming Education’.
The main goal of this day is to raise awareness of the World Programme Action for Youth, which provides a policy framework and practical guidelines to improve the situation of young people across the world, at both the national and global level.
The international community identified 15 priority areas for the full development and support of young people, encouraging governments to take action and promote their human rights. The focus in 2019 is education.
The 2019 theme: Transforming Education
This year, International Youth Day will be officially commemorated online in early August and it will be focused on ‘Transforming Education’, a theme chosen by the Focal Point on Youth with inputs from youth organisations and the UN Inter-Agency Network in Youth development.
In line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, – the aim is to examine government and youth-led efforts to transform education in order to make it more relevant, inclusive and equitable for all young people.
Education is a main concern for achieving sustainable development. Besides Goal 4, many other SDGs depend on education in order to be achieved: from eradicating poverty to achieving gender equality, education plays a role across the board.
Yet, there are still many obstacles: only 10% of people have completed secondary education in low-income countries, 40% of young people are being taught in languages in which they are not fluent, and 75% of young refugees are not in secondary schools1
Across the world, innovative educators and students are calling for transformative changes in education that prepare them for the new global and digital era. Youth-led organisations are at the frontlines, providing additional training for excluded young people, updating school curricula and identifying key areas for education policy reform.
Without youth engagement, it is not possible to truly transform education systems across the world. International Youth Day was created to provide young people with a platform to voice their concerns and present solutions.
Their input and experience are particularly valuable to develop new education policies that are more inclusive and that reflect the actual concerns and needs of young students. The official commemoration will be held online to foster inclusivity and accessibility, so every youth-led and youth-focused organisation should seek to participate in this truly global event.
1Department of Economic and Social Affairs Youth: International Youth Day 2019: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/creativity/creative-economy-report-2013-special-edition/