Youth Participation in Education: From the Lens of a Student
Photo: Youth leaders in India, Credit: UNICEF/UN0276725/Das
When I started my Master’s in development studies at the University of Sussex’s Institute for Development Studies (IDS), I concentrated on relating different development concepts to education. For me, education is truly a foundation for human development. It is the first step that introduces humans to multi-faceted spectrums of life. Thus, for me, development is a process to bridge the gaps in the education space.
I cherished the value of education from my volunteer and professional experience. I was a volunteer teacher with more than twenty students in grades 6-8 in the final month of law school in 2017, and in 2020, I was an academic consultant with an education organization. From these experiences, I learned the power of teachers in shaping the thought-process of the students. As a student and teacher both, I closely observed the influence of a teacher over their students. The teacher is a path-finder for the students in their journey in life.
Through these experiences, I realized youth's power in creating a change. As I began my Master’s during a pandemic, I received a platform as a student at the University of Sussex where I interacted with like-minded individuals sharing a common interest in education. With this, let me introduce you to the student-led Education Hub at the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex.
We are working to create an education forum for students interested in pursuing a future or exploring the domain of education. The objective is to build bridges in education and development through different activities and collective learning processes. This forum's initiation was a collective effort with strong organizing skills of students that led to a rise in participation. The initiative focuses on indulging in varied activities through collaboration, engaging with academics, participatory dialogues like one recently held with Davinia James-Stewart, Founder of Pennies4Girls, and research to prepare for conferences/competitions. This forum introduced me to the power of youth and organizing where a belief and passion in taking initiatives can result in creating a forum. It is a perfect example where students can collectively learn and unlearn through collaborative deliberations and open-minded agreements and disagreements on various topics and issues related to education in development. Although the initiative is at a nascent stage, willingness and belief in it have fueled everyone's passion for developing something big.
I feel fortunate to be a part of the community where my beliefs and desires are turned into action. This student-led forum has re-invigorated the spirits of the present students to build an education collective where incoming IDS students can find better support in exploring education and development. This endeavor would not have taken place without the help of the members of the faculty. The power of teachers, as I mentioned earlier, has a far-reaching impact. Their support accelerated the process of our growth.
In my opinion, the Education Hub illustrates the power of youth participation in education with its diversity because the students/youth come from different parts of the world, bringing their expertise and experiences. This diversity is the biggest asset of the group. Their value-add is immeasurable because everyone has additional input. And, it is the driving force pushing the engine of the initiative forward. Thus, my journey has molded my opinions in strongly propagating the essence and significance of youth participation in education. A strong commitment and direction are critical as we strive to formalize. Hearing from Davinia James-Stewart, I resonated with her thoughts that strong commitment and belief in your vision can truly fulfil the desired aims. Therefore, with our unwavering commitment and uncompromising dedication, this initiative will soon be fulfilled with the collective efforts of all the members of the group.
Shreyan Acharya is a MA student in Development Studies at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. He shares a keen interest in the Education sector and previously volunteered with Teach for India and worked briefly with Stones2Milestones. He is presently a member of the student-led Education Hub and wants to explore his interest in filling the gaps in the education space.