A four-day Youth Forum in Mauritius held earlier this year in the wings of the Conference of the Commonwealth Education Ministers was the launch pad for a new international student movement, reports Zain Haider Awan, 18, a delegate from Britain.
The Eighteenth Conference of the Commonwealth Education Ministers (18CCEM) is held every three years and is one of the most important meetings in the Commonwealth education calendar.
The 18th CCEM took place from 28th – 31st August, 2012 in Mauritius and featured a parallel youth forum which set to empower and advocate for youth rights.
The overarching theme for the 18CCEM was ‘Education in the Commonwealth: Bridging the gap as we accelerate towards achieving Internationally Agreed Goals (IAG)’ whilst the Youth Forum focused on ‘Be the Change’.
With over half of the people living in Commonwealth countries are under the age of 25, the Commonwealth holds youth participation in high regard and believes that its future lies with its young people. The Youth Forum brings student leaders between the ages of 18-29 from across the Commonwealth.
It is with this mandate that student leaders representing 30 Commonwealth countries gathered n Mauritius for a four-day Youth Forum.
Over 100 Student Activists who delved into discovering what ‘Be the Change’ meant to them and led to the conclusion of a steering committee to drive the now mandated pan-commonwealth student association (PCSA).
The importance of the forum has been increasing since its inception and with key political figures from Prime-Ministers to Education specialists engaging with the youth element of 18CCEM. Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba highlighted the importantce of the discussions and dialogue in the youth forum by stating that the gatherings ‘outcomes feed directly into the main conferences.’
Alongside the powerful discussions and debates, student leaders were given the opportunity to experience the cultural sharing element which is so crucial to the modern Commonwealth. Youth were given time, space and hospitality as they stayed with local Mauritians in a home-stay.
Zainab Khan a student leader from Pakistan shares her experience: “It was so fascinating to delve into the very depths of Mauritian culture. To understand the beautiful similarities that we all share across the Commonwealth, not to mention the striking differences – which make the experience ever-so colorful and diverse.
“A book about Mauritian culture can never give you the experience when you mix, mingle and munch on the beauty that it is Mauritius. It gave me a break from the hectic and busy lifestyle demanded by the youth forum, from intense discussions and deliberations. Above all though – it gave me a time to make lasting global friendships.”
Student leaders had time to lobby, discuss and network with current leaders and ministers, whilst campaigning and canvassing in a heated elections themselves to become on the steering committee which sets out to shape the PCSA.
The conference was the ideal time for students leaders to learn, develop and now to act for a greater student voice and rights within the Commonwealth.
Picture: Screengrab from Zain’s video
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
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