My name is Caroline Mutesi. I am a Ugandan national and the first born of five children. I am 22 years old and I graduated in 2014 from Makerere Universty in Uganda with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences. I volunteer at Forum for African Women Educationalists - Uganda (FAWEU) because I want to help young girls and boys get an education and work with people with whom I share the same dream and vision.
The youth delegates at the African Union in Addis Ababa after the youth run for the Day of the African Child.
This year, Women Thrive sponsored me to attend a commemoration of the Day of the African Child in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This day honors the thousands of black school children who took to the streets of Soweto, South Africa in 1976 to protest the inferior quality of their education, and the hundreds of young boys and girls who were shot down by security forces because they stood up for their right to quality education.
The importance of education cannot be easily measured. I am 22 years old but education enabled me to get a job two years ago with FAWEU and I have been able to support my family of eight and to partially pay my tuition through university. My whole life was turned around because I was able to go to school.
Without education, I would have been married off by now and likely already have many children; my mother and siblings would be starving and homeless without my help. However, now I can pay the rent and bills and tuitions for my little brothers and sisters. With the help of other people around me, I have been able to overcome the barriers to accessing quality education, so I want to do the same for others whenever and however I can.
Education ensures that every girl and boy has a chance to shine. We need to protect the education of today's children because they are the voice of tomorrow.
This year’s theme for the Day of the African Child events was “a child friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa”. A World at School, in collaboration with the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Plan International, UNICEF and other partners, brought together youth delegates from around the world to deliver a global call to action— demanding quality education and safe schools—in the African Union’s fitting Mandela Hall.
We said we would not stop until 57 million out-of-school children are given their right to education. We called on our leaders to stop spending money on weapons for war, but instead use it to build more schools, and invest more in peace building and education. Young people have a voice, a strong voice, and we all need to use it.
I loved the whole experience and I wouldn’t trade it with anything else in the world. I made new friends as part of the Day of the African Child delegation, and I believe that we made a real difference and that the voices of young African people were heard.
My goal is to see young African people able to make informed decisions, able to influence decision-making, and demand their rights. And that can only be attained through educating them.
I will continue working toward this goal by working with other organizations that have the same goal as mine. My passion lies in helping the needy and speaking for those who cannot voice their needs.
Whichever opportunity I get, and whichever platform I am given, I will not stop until I see some change.
Thousands of children gathered on June 15 to take part in a four-kilometre run outside the gates of the African Union to send the message that time is running out to fund global education. Here are me and Maria (A youth delegate from Norway) getting ready for the run.
The young people made speeches and questioned policymakers about what they are doing to support all children in Africa to go to school. We had an intergenerational dialogue with the youth (on the right) and experts from the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, ACERWC, UNICEF, UNESCO, UN-YOUTH, Save the Children and SOS (on the left).
Youth delegates Henry (Liberia), Faridah (Malawi), Me and Khalidah (Kenya) at the African Union.