Education can help disadvantaged students defy the odds – and rebuild lives shattered by violence
Our forum was privileged to hear the stories of extraordinary individuals whose education helped them to overcome incredible adversity. In the words of former child soldier Mohamed Sidibay: “When I learnt how to read and write I felt powerful.”
But GESF also gave us an important reminder of the violence that affects so many schools around the world. We heard the harrowing testimony of three survivors of the Florida Parkland high school shooting, as well as an important rallying call from teachers in conflict zones across the world for governments to ensure the safety of schools.
Everyone remembers their favourite teacher, and every one of our delegates had a story to tell about the teacher who changed their life – and why education matters to them. Among them were superstar celebrities, actors and sports personalities, including actresses Priyanka Chopra and Charlize Theron; champion Formula One Driver Lewis Hamilton; Olympic medallist Mo Farah; and lauded singer Jennifer Hudson.
But most importantly, they included the teachers who are at the heart of GESF. In the words of Global Teacher Prize 2018 winner Andria Zafirakou: “I’ve just spent the most amazing few days meeting the most phenomenal teachers and they have come from all over the world. I am celebrating this win with you – and all our teachers back home.” In this article, I have decided to share the highlights from the largest forum of educators in the world with the hope that this will be an impetus for readers who have any interest in the development of the Nigerian Educational sector to go back to the drawing board. It is clear given these key trends that we have some way to go and conversations have to be had at the various levels which must now translate into key, deliberate and measurable action steps with a view to developing a framework for education development that is very much aligned with the world view and the future. After all, what is the point of education that does not translate to employability and relevant skills development. Every stakeholder must recommit to the actualization of the muchrequired changes in the Nigerian education sector.