On Tuesday, a group of young people from across the country met with Stephen O’Brien, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for International Development. Stephen O’Brien has special responsibility for education so they were there to quiz him on the Government’s efforts to get every child into school by 2015.
The teenagers had travelled to London from Cardiff, Essex, Glasgow, Leicester, North Yorkshire, Oxford, and Wolverhampton. The delegation was led by Emma Woods, 17, from North Yorkshire, who has been involved in the Send my Friend to School campaign since the age of 14.
Emma is passionate about the issue of education: “Education has done so much for me when I have been through bad times, so I want other young people to have the opportunities and support I have had”
The young campaigners asked the Minister a number of tough questions about getting children into school. Here are a few of the questions they had for the Minister:
- Why has the number of children in school plateaued? Have politicians given up on the reaching Millennium Development Goal for education?
- What is DfID doing for groups of children lagging behind, specifically girls and disabled children?
- What difference can young people’s campaigning make to UK government policy?
Here are a few comments from some of the young people who met with Stephen O’Brien:
“The meeting with the Minister went brilliantly. As girls it is particularly shocking to learn about the conditions of education overseas. It makes me appreciate the education we have. The numbers of children missing out on school shouldn’t be stalling, so this means we need to increase our efforts and campaigning.” Tanisha Patel, 15
“There has been a massive step in the right direction with the numbers of children out of school dropping from 100 million in 2000 to 67million in 2012. The figure has stalled for the last 2 years but hopefully this will begin to pick up again. I definitely want to go on and raise more awareness of the fact that 9 out of 10 disabled children do not go to school in many developing countries.” Reece Beale, 15, Essex
“DfID are working incredibly hard, but we must continue to look at education as an investment not a cost.” Shalin Abraham, 18, West Midlands
“We want everyone to have the opportunity of a good education – we can’t have a world full of uneducated people.” Bobo Kalungu-Banda, 15, Oxford
“Education is the key to solving poverty. I have always wanted to make a difference to the lives of others and this project has allowed me to make my views heard. I think it’s unacceptable that the numbers of children getting into school has stalled.” Alex Cotter, 15, Oxford