Samina Begum and Jessica Hardy, both in Year 10 at Limehurst Academy in Loughborough, are to be the 2016 Young Ambassadors for the Send My Friend to School campaign. In February, they will travel to Kenya on a fact-finding mission with Deaf Child Worldwide and the Global Campaign for Education UK (GCE UK) to investigate progress in getting every child into school. This will be the start of their year-long role in which they will work to raise awareness and help to ensure that no child is forgotten in receiving their right to education.
The pupils have just won The Steve Sinnott Award, presented to two passionate young people each year who are committed to furthering the cause of Education for All.
The Judges were particularly impressed with the girls’ passion and knowledge of this issue, their maturity, humour, self motivation and the work they had already done in campaigning and making their MP, Nicky Morgan, aware of this important global issue.
The Send My Friend to School campaign, organised by GCE UK, aims to hold world leaders to the pledge they made in September 2015 at the UN Summit as part of the new Global Goals; to provide quality education for every child worldwide up to the age of 15. Worldwide there are currently 124 million children up to the age of 15 out of school. The children that are missing out most are children with disabilities, girls and children affected by war, conflict and other emergencies.
As the 2016 Young Ambassadors for the campaign, Samina and Jessica’s role will be to inspire thousands of other young people all around the UK to urgently speak out for the right for every child worldwide to get a quality education now.
In Kenya, they will meet with campaigners, charity workers, policy makers, teachers and community workers trained to support deaf children to get an education. They will also have the chance to meet deaf children who have been denied the chance to go to school. They will be able to see first-hand how this traps these children in poverty and learn about the barriers to getting them a quality education.
On their return, Samina and Jessica will speak about the issues they have witnessed at events to parliamentarians in the House of Commons and to teachers at the NUT conference. As Young Ambassadors they will also work to inspire their peers to join the campaign via the Send My Friend to School website, through mainstream and social media and through regional school events.
Samina, 14, said, ” I still can’t believe that we did it! We’re going to Kenya! I am now really looking forward to learning sign language and to communicate without spoken language. It’s going to really help me understand the situation that some children face in Kenya. I am so privileged to have the opportunity to do my bit in making this world a better place!”
Jessica, 15, said, ” We are so grateful for this opportunity. I can’t wait to be able to finally help those who aren’t as privileged as me…. I’m really looking forward to being able to get my voice heard and see what change we can make.”
Joanna Clark, Director of Deaf Child Worldwide, the international arm of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “We are so pleased that Samina and Jessica will be visiting our projects in Kenya.
“Access to schooling in the country has improved significantly in the last ten years but deaf children are still not getting the support they need and continue to fall behind their hearing peers.
“We know that, given the right support, deaf children can succeed. Our new ‘Young Ambassadors’ will help us achieve our vision of a world without barriers for every deaf child.”
In Kenya, Samina & Jessica will spend time in the capital of Nairobi where they will visit deaf units in schools supported by Deaf Child Worldwide. Within a mainstream school, the deaf units offer an enabling learning environment with specialist and intensive support available to increase attainment levels.
They will also travel 500km east of Nairobi to the rural area of Kwale. Deaf units are rare in rural areas, where instead children go to residential schools for the deaf given the long distances between school and home. They will see how Deaf Child Worldwide supports deaf children and the different challenges they face in accessing education in rural and urban areas.
Get your local school to join Samina and Jessica on the Send My Friend to School campaign. Sign up now for a free schools pack www.sendmyfriend.org