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Ama Owusu-Darko Headshot

UN Malala Day: Youth as Advocates for Education

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As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals quickly approaches, 550 young leaders from all over the world are converging at the UN Headquarters in New York to celebrate Malala Day. I deem it a great honor to have the opportunity to attend this UN Youth Assembly. In my country, Ghana, about one million children aged 6-14 are out-of-school, according to the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, 2008. A significant portion of the children who are missing out on the benefits of education will end up on the streets, without access to opportunities for a decent living.

In discussing this with Ibrahima Diop, a fellow MasterCard Foundation Scholar at Arizona State University, he agreed that the issue of street children in Ghana is similar to that of his native country, Senegal. I realize that the problem of street children is a multi-faceted issue; however, I would like to appeal to stakeholders, especially governments in Sub-Saharan Africa, to put special effort into implementing a system that will enable the education of street children.

It is commendable of the UN to consider the views of youth in tackling the burgeoning problem of lack of access to quality education. Over the next few days, I hope to learn more about the Education First initiative priorities, in particular the steps that the UN and other organizations are taking to increase access to education, improve the quality of learning and promote global citizenship through education.

I am also looking forward to interacting with young leaders from around the world and brainstorming together the steps the youth can take to ensure that all children are educated.

Every child deserves a quality education. Realizing the huge impact education can make on a person's life, many people have sacrificed their personal comforts and wellbeing to fight against the obstacles to this essential goal. We celebrate Malala Day in honor of Malala Yousafzai, a courageous 15-year-old who dared to take a stand in support of education for girls in Pakistan, despite the danger of losing her life. Malala is an inspiration to people everywhere to take action and not idle in the quest to realize the second Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education for all children.