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International Day of Education: An Open Letter from Hong Kong to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

Hong Kong Youth Voices on Education for Sustainable Development

Hong Kong Youth Voices on Education for Sustainable Development

Young Changemaker Incubator Class of 2021 - Their Voices! Part 1

Young Changemaker Incubator Class of 2021 - Their Voices! Part 1

Young Changemaker Incubator Class of 2021 - Their Voices! Part 2

Young Changemaker Incubator Class of 2021 - Their Voices! Part 2

For International Day of Education: These are Hong Kong's Youth Voices on Education for Sustainable Development, from Young Changemaker Incubator Class of 2021

17 Education (NASDAQ:YQ)

Education for Sustainable Development is holistic and transformational, and it achieves purpose by creating change. To fulfil this mission, the voices of youth from all walks of life need to be heard!”
— Michael Li
NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES, January 25, 2021 / -- Today, on the International Day of Education, we at ITS Education Asia are submitting an open letter to the United Nations and to Secretary-General António Guterres to ensure that those we are educating have a voice in how they are educated.

Education standards worldwide have fostered hundreds of millions of students to become ready for work. But while they are certainly capable and competent, the question facing these hordes of educated young adults is simply: What type of work?

Secondary schools and universities are beginning to realize that their graduates find careers irrelevant to their majors. Many brilliant adults are stuck at miserable jobs simply because they pay well. Many of our brightest minds spend all their faculties trying to make the rich richer. These tragic outcomes suggest, perhaps, that education should not be solely designed by adults. Perhaps it's time to ask the kids what they think is important to learn.

In Hong Kong, we at ITS Education Asia and the Young Changemaker Incubator have listened. We help students trailblaze their own path of education by helping them develop sustainable initiatives within their community. Our educators and mentors, however, merely nudge students to helpful research, concrete action, and making contacts. These students have taught us that once they seize the reins of their education, us adults can take the back seat. These students are not only learning how to self-organize, they are learning they can already inspire change in their communities. They don't need to wait for a degree or an employment contract to shape the world according to their principles and passions.

On the topic of Education for Sustainable Development, here are some perspectives from members of the Young Changemaker Incubator Class of 2021:

“Education is integral to progress. Our future depends on whether we can inspire the next generation and cultivate their full potential to improve the human condition.” Arthur K Cheung, Student, King George V School

“Much of the world's marginalized population has been denied access to quality education and lifelong opportunities. This is very true of all children along the spectrum of autism. Through music therapy, I am working towards inclusion for students underserved by traditional school systems.” Alvin Wong, 10th Grade Student, International Christian School

“We need young people to use their entrepreneurial enthusiasm to eliminate poverty and hunger by encouraging compassion and cultural awareness. This is especially true during a pandemic which has hindered collaboration. I am focused on a Hong Kong with zero food and packaging waste.” Ethan Ho, Founder, Waste Less Feed Better Org

“To be or not to be ... educated. That is the question. Education is the engine of social mobility that drives equitable access to the opportunity of living a life fulfilled. For students left off traditional educational pathways, I want to enrich their lives through eliciting their creativity.” Alex Lee, Lower 6th Student, Harrow School UK

“Inclusivity, innovation, and accessibility are the big issues facing education, which has a tradition of evolving slowly. Students incur unhealthy stress in systems that emphasize tests and not individual development. I want to change that.” Jason Qiu, Student, Island School

“Education is the most powerful weapon to reduce inequality. I founded Buddy Wiser to bring a free curriculum of study skills to ethnic minorities and children from underprivileged families.” Alison Carless, Founder and President, BuddyWiser Foundation

“Progress stems from education, culture, freedom, and equality. If any of these are taken away, mankind flounders in the corrupt image of a select few. Together, we can collaborate towards a more unified world, one where cooperation - not competition - is at the centre of the economic zeitgeist.” Alfred Francis, Student, American International School

“Technology gives us the opportunity to democratize education for the wider community. It is time to rethink the traditional education system and obstacles to access.” Aden Wong, 8th Grade Student, International Christian School

“Everyone has struggles, but not all are the same. There is no problem too small to raise awareness for, and it's usually the more uncommon problems that need a bit more visibility to popularize compassion and inspire solutions.“ Rica Wong, Founder, Youth Resilience Foundation

We humbly ask the United Nations and the Secretary General to acknowledge the need to include youth in designing their education. They are an essential stakeholder in our worldwide efforts to educate. If we want the incoming crop of world leaders to be prepared for the daunting global challenges of the 21st century, we need to get their input now more than ever.

This article is co-authored by:

Michael Li – ITS Education Asia, Group Development Director // Founder of the YCI
Kenneth Kwok – Founder and CEO, Global Citizen Capital // Founder of KIDsforSDGs

Ethan McKinsey
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United Nations Secretary-General on International Day of Education (2021)

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