BY EMMANUEL CHIFAMBA
Sustainable development is achievable if young people fully participate in SDGs
Young people can play a crucial role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. There are about 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 – the largest youth population ever. 8 out of 10 young people live in undeveloped communities including Zimbabwe. Too many of these young people see their potential hindered by extreme poverty, discrimination or lack of information. Despite their harsh reality young people are going against the odds in fighting for a better future for the future generation.
Goal 4 – Quality Education
One of the aims of SDG 4 is to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education. In Zimbabwe the average textbook- pupil ratio stands at 1:8 at Ordinary level. Team Amigo (Simbarashe Duane Andre, Blessing-Mau Maunze, Brighton Mahatchi and Farayi Goronga) developed an application to bring textbooks to remote and disadvantaged students across Zimbabwe. Team Amigo participated in the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge 2019 and emerged as one out of five teams of global winners who received $20,000 each in April 2019 from Generation Unlimited. To date the application has over 15,000 users.
This solution has and will continue to help improve access to educational material. Farai says, “We want to provide students with easily accessible and affordable educational materials. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds— and there are many of those in our country and on the continent, can only get equal opportunities in education if they can access learning materials at a low cost and in the palm of their hands. We also want to tailor make special educational tools for people living with disabilities. Such as the visually impaired and those with hearing loss”
Goal 5 – Gender equality
Ending all discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, it is crucial for sustainable future. It has been proven that empowering women and girls helps economic growth and development. One of the biggest challenges for young girls is unplanned pregnancies. Zimbabwe is amongst one of the several countries battling early and unintended pregnancies among adolescents.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Official Masimba Nyamucheta said, “statistics indicate that over 21% of girls aged between 15 and 19 were already getting pregnant.” Once a girl falls pregnant it is not easy for them to go back to school while the boy continues with school. Charlene and Tanaka were also participants of the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge 2019 who received US$1,000 in seed money. They also received mentoring and coaching to launch their idea, ‘The Charltan School’.
The Charltan School is a school for adult women who missed out on an education because they married early. Charltan School, which opened in January 2019, has two campuses each with 20 students in the low-income areas of Chitungwiza and Epworth. “Dropping out of school too early due to child marriage, lacking education and training, these women do not have access to employment. Their husbands buy them everything and they lose the sense of value and independence. At the end of the day, they are abused by their husbands,” says Charlene. This is the challenge the Charltan School seeks to solve in their contribution towards achieving the SDGs.
Goal 13: Climate action
There is no country that is not experiencing the drastic effects of climate change. Nkosilathi Nyathi is a young environment activist in Zimbabwe, who has been at the forefront of climate action since he was 11. He led the environmental club at his then primary school. During his time there he won a UNICEF grant to get a bio gas plant for his school to convert waste into energy and since then his passion for the environment as only grown. He has amplified the call for government to look at environmental issues and climate change in particular. Participating at the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2019, Nkosilathi urged Governments to take Climate action seriously. Nkosi said, “Friends, we are always looking for words, not action. I have no more words, but I beseech you to act – please sign the declaration.”
Time for action.
While a few young people are participating in the fight to achieve the Global Goals by 2030, there is still a lot of work left for young people to do. While young people might be 25% of the world’s population now, they are the entirety of the future. 2020 marks the beginning of the Decade of Action to deliver the Global Goals, and this year Zimbabwe has the privilege to host the 6th Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development from 24-27 February 2020 in Victoria Falls Town. The Forum provides a platform for peer learning and exchange on ideas for the implementation of SDGs. This is a perfect opportunity for young people to join the movement and be a part of achieving SDGs in their community.
Click HERE to learn more and apply for the 6th Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development from 24-27 February 2020