Youth Advocacy Group Prepare Call to Action for the launch of UN Secretary-General's Initiative 'Education First'

© UN Photo/JC Mdlwaine

“Education is key to everything the UN wishes to achieve. It should be the first priority in all member states.” - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 30 July 2012.

21 September 2012:  Education needs to be adapted to the diverse and relative needs of the recipients, reminds Jamira Burley, a 23 year old advocate of youth issues from Philadelphia. “There should also be equal opportunity across the world, so that regardless of your social, political or economic background you can have the same advantages as someone with more or less”, she points out.

Salathiel Ntakirutimana, a 22 year old representative from Burundi who, at 15, co-founded the Association of Burundian Orphans, highlights: “Education should not just prepare young people for available jobs in the market but it should actually spur an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit in young people so that they can learn to create rather than seek jobs”.

Jamira and Salathiel are two of the newly appointed members of the Youth Advocacy Group, whose task will to provide expertise on youth education issues and support Chernor Bah, the youth representative in the High-Level Steering Committee. M. Bah was delighted to congratulate the newly appointed members: “With the breadth of your respective expertise and experiences, I am confident we have a group that is going to not only do a terrific job, but have fun doing it!”

Discussions have already been launched within the Youth Advocacy Group to advise M. Bah on young people’s priorities for the Youth Call to Action, which will be presented at the global launch of Education First on 26 September 2012. When asked to contribute to the document, members draw from their expertise and regional experience to propose concrete modifications. The youth representative has the chance to consult members hailing from fifteen different countries, including Australia, Cameroon, Chile, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Jamaica, Lebanon, Malawi, Moldova, the Philippines, the USA, Serbia, the UK, and Zambia.

The Youth Advocacy Group includes young people who have worked as representatives of youth organizations with demonstrated leadership and activism in advocating for youth issues. Chosen over some 500 applications responding to a global call for nominations led by an expert panel, the fifteen newly appointed members of the Youth Advocacy Group bring together an outstanding array of experience and expertise in youth education issues that range from student affairs and student movements to sexual and reproductive health education, education for sustainable development, and access to quality education for indigenous communities, refugees, or urban slum children. The Youth Advocacy Group thus displays an interesting diversity of age, geographic region, and thematic expertise: the youngest participant, 15 year old Mwiza Chirambo from Malawi has been a strong advocate for child rights in his country, while the oldest, Ms. Genwa Samhat, at 26, gained experience working on drug prevention and increasing access to education for migrant workers in Lebanon.

Over the next year of their mandate, members will be asked to provide strategic advice on young people’s priorities, mobilize young people on the initiative, facilitate the dissemination of information to networks and organizations around the world, and consult with their constituencies, who do not necessarily speak English and/or have Internet connectivity.

The Youth Advocacy Group includes the newly appointed members: Dejan Bojanic, 22, from Serbia, Jamira Burley, 23, from the USA, David Crone, 17, from the UK, Mwiza Chirambo, 15, from Malawi, Amelia Dominguez, 17, from Chile, Abigail Kaindu, 24, from Zambia, Hayley McQuire, 21, from Australia, Joseph Munyambanza, 22, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Salathiel Ntakirutimana, 22, from Burundi, Sumaya Saluja, 23, from India, Genwa Samhat, 26, from Lebanon, Anna Susarenco, 23, from Moldova,  Bertheline Nina Tchangoue, 20, from Cameroon, Rolando Villamero Jr., 24, from the Philippines, and Charles Young, 16, from Jamaica.

For additional information, please visit: or contact


Jamira Burley is one of the fifteen appointed members of the Youth Advocacy Group.