Wanted: young campaigners to go on a fact-finding trip to Uganda!

Millie and Sam outside Madanpur Khadar primary school, New Delhi (© David Levene)

Millie and Sam outside Madanpur Khadar primary school, New Delhi (© David Levene)

A national competition to find the Young Global Education Ambassadors for 2014 is now open to schoolchildren in the UK. The winners will have the opportunity to visit Uganda in early 2014 with the charity Sightsavers and the Global Campaign for Education.

The search is on for two bright, articulate and passionate 14 /15 year–olds (Year 10 pupils) to apply through their school for the Steve Sinnott Award.  This competition will give the winners, and their teacher, an amazing trip to Uganda to investigate the barriers to education, particularly for children with disabilities. This competition is open to all secondary schools and applications where one or both of the candidates has a special educational need or disability are encouraged.

The Global Campaign for Education aims to raise awareness of the need to provide every child with a full primary education by the year 2015.  This is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals that world leaders agreed back in the year 2000.  Since that time, some progress has been made, but there are still 57 million children around the world who are missing out on education.

Over one third of all children missing out on school have a disability. The 2014 campaign will focus on this issue and work to ensure that world leaders leave no child behind.

In Kampala the Young Ambassadors will meet with policy makers and campaigners to hear about the challenges to education in the country and what is being done towards progress. They will then travel to Iganga, a 3 hour drive from Kampala, where they will meet with children who are missing out on school due to discrimination or barriers to education for those with disabilities.

They will also visit the Uganda Inclusive Education Programme, which aims to increase enrolment of blind and low vision children in Uganda by 25 per cent by 2016. The Young Ambassadors will be able to find out about the project, where Sightsavers provides equipment, assistive devices, braille machines and paper and also provides training for teachers in special needs education. While there, they will meet with children with disabilities and teachers at the school to find out about their experience of education.

On return to the UK, the young campaigners will help ‘spread the word’ by speaking at union conferences and to the media. They will also write a trip diary, blogs and short articles and present their findings to politicians at an event in the House of Commons. The award winners will represent the Send My Friend to School campaign and help to motivate thousands of children in the UK to take part in the campaign; this year almost 5,000 schools and half a million pupils got involved.

This year’s Young Ambassadors, Millie Wells and Sam Whittingham, both 15 from Ringwood School in Hampshire, travelled to India earlier this year with Oxfam, spoke to UK politicians in parliament and joined Malala Yousafzai for a youth-takeover of the United Nations in New York to highlight the importance of education for every single child.

Sam said: “The most enjoyable aspect of this wonderful experience was meeting all the other passionate and inspirational advocates who have the same shared cause.

It has been a truly exceptional year of my life.  I would recommend that if you have the chance to apply for this competition then do so, as the opportunities you get are amazing and it will change your life forever.”

Millie said: “ This year has been the best year of my life. I loved every minute of it, but especially seeing first-hand the education challenges in India and participating in Malala Day. It is demanding and very hard work but such an important campaign deserves commitment. I urge you to apply, Good Luck!’

For full applications details go to: www.sendmyfriend.org/young-ambassadors.

Entries can only be accepted from children with the full support of a school, as a teacher must accompany the students on the trip.

The closing date for entries is 15th November 2013.

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