“Knowledge I got from education is my asset, my strength, my source of income today. That’s why everyone has to be educated…”
Franco Rashid, 27, from Uganda, East Africa, is the Founder of the West Nile Humanitarian Response Committee (WNHRC). Passionate about advocacy and child protection, Franco received the UN Young Leaders training certificate award in 2021 and became a member of the Unlock the Future Transforming Education Action Group. He currently works as a youth panelist at Global Youth Mobilization where young people take the lead in responding to negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s great to have you as a member of our Transforming Education Action Group. What prompted you to advocate for education?
Education has the potential to play a crucial role in attaining gender equality, as documented for example by UNESCO’s Education Transforms Lives. And that’s why education has to be at the forefront of the Sustainable Development Goals. To remove the barriers in the marginalized community, we need to not only implement education but enforce it every time we are alive.
How would you say that education has shaped you as a person?
My social and leadership skills are from my education background and today I do my things (SMART) and that’s because of education. And the knowledge I got from education is my asset, my strength, my source of income today. That’s why everyone has to be educated in order to achieve at least middle income status.
What are the challenges facing young learners now, and what can we do to address the crisis?
Poor infrastructure, inappropriate learning environment, Uganda’s poor collaboration with the UN System, school drop-out, teenage pregnancy cases, and discrimination against women and girls — an increasingly significant phenomenon in our country (Uganda) and a major obstacle to obtaining their rights as citizens as well as to the development of societies.
Children, adolescents and youth are still not in school today. Of those enrolled, approximately 60% fail to achieve basic learning proficiency each year. Nearly 65% of Uganda’s youth who cannot read or write are girls, underlying the ongoing gender and equity disparities in delivering quality education for all.
As covered in Education Transforms Lives, when a girl receives a quality education, she is less likely to get pregnant young, be married early, or be a victim of violence, and is more likely to get a job, and to contribute as an active citizen to the development of society.
Therefore we call upon the UN Foundation to hold the government accountable for this matter. We also call upon multiple CSOs to contribute to the development of our country. Today we have received 1.2 million refugees from neighboring countries (South Sudan, DR Congo) and we share the same resources with them, which also needs serious intervention of the UN Agencies to improve the quality of services.
All 17 Goals will be reviewed during the SDG Summit in 2023, the largest global moment since the launch of the 2030 Agenda eight years ago. What is your advice to education leaders and young people preparing for post-TES mobilization?
Seven key pieces of advice to the education leaders are:
- Focus on respect rather than popularity
- Establish clear goals
- Listen to input from your staff
- Lead by example
- Provide regular, constructive feedback
- Make meetings matter
Who is your superhero that you admire and why?
Nelson Madiba Mandela, first black head of state in South Africa and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. He is a Man of no racism, discrimination, and inequalities in any way. Nelson Mandela is the type of a leader that we describe in one word (creating space for humanity). I love him, followed by UN Secretary General António Guterres who has put young people at the forefront of every development stage.
Franco will be attending the Transforming Education Summit, and he is looking forward to seeing Uganda among the 193 UN member countries that are promoting peace and security and working towards elimination of poverty in the society.
Franco is also one of our Action Group members who has written a letter to his government encouraging them to attend and commit to transforming education. Read his letter to the President of the Republic of Uganda here.