By Angela Walker
ROME, Italy, 7 July 2009 – Indian delegates to the Junior 8 summit this week identified education as the most pressing priority facing the country’s young people and want parents and children to get involved to demand quality schooling for all.
Fourteen-year-old Narendra Kumar from Pure Gosain, Uttar Pradesh, 16-year-old Sanjukta Pangi, from Semiliguda, Orissa and 17-year-old Samuel Venkatesen, from Shoolagiri, Tamil Nadu traveled from India to attend the youth summit being held in parallel to the G8 meeting in L’Aquila, Italy.
The Indian teens are joined by 51 young people, ages 14 to 17, from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the UK , USA, Brazil, China, Egypt, Mexico and South Africa.
“The children in my village are not able to progress as far as they could because of a lack of quality education,” Narendra says. “Parents and children must get involved and make sure that poor kids can access quality schooling.”
Need for improving quality of education
Samuel also feels that education is the most pressing need for India’s young people. He agreed not only that the quality of education needs to be improved, but also more needs to be done to help girls go and stay in school. Girls in Tamil Nadu, he says, often are kept out of school, because they are doing household work or are married when they are just starting their teens.
Sanjukta, herself, knows how hard it is for girls to go and stay in school. Her father wanted her to stay home and care for her brother and sister rather than getting an education.
But when a girl in her village died of an overdose of medicine because neither she nor her parents could read, Sanjukta convinced her father of the importance of letting her continue her education. This week, she was chosen by her peers to meet with the Indian prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.
In addition to education, the focus of this year’s J8 is on climate change, the world financial crisis and poverty in Africa as they impact on the lives of children and young people. Previous J8 summits have been in Gleneagles 2005 (it was called the C8), St. Petersburg 2006, Heilingdam 2007 (Germany), Chitose 2008 (Japan).
Sanjukta says she is a changed young woman after being involved in the J8 and can’t wait to return to India to share what she has learned. “I want to take back my immense knowledge and skills (that I have gained) and share with other young people my age,” she says. “My mindset has completely changed. … A new Sanjukta will be going back to India.”
For more information contact
Chief of Communication, UNICEF India
Tel: +44 71 624 196 790 or +91-98-181-06093
Communication Officer- Media